Why do political parties patronise godmen?

Till Friday, the godman was one of the select group of 36 VVIPs allowed Z level security. His conviction has put the spotlight back on the nexus between politics and godmen

Photo courtesy: PTI Photo
Photo courtesy: PTI Photo

Ashutosh Sharma

Soon after godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim was convicted on rape charges by a special CBI court in Panchkula on Friday afternoon, several news-paper clippings citing Prime Minister Narendra Modi praising the Dera Sachha Sauda chief surfaced on social media. Also, an election-eve video of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressing Dera followers and showering praises on the “Messenger of God” has also started doing the rounds of social media.

Amid applause and cheers, Modi can be heard saying: “Mein guru maharaj Ram Singhji Mastanji ke Sacha Sauda ko pranam karta hun (I salute Ram Singhji, Mastanji's Sacha Sauda)” in the videos being shared on social media.

However, conspiracy theorists wondered if the godman has been at the receiving end of a hatchet job by the Modi Government. The godman’s statement before the magistrate in the rape case was recorded in 2014 and although the CBI had filed its charge sheet in the case long back, the trial gained steam during the past three years.

Godmen have been close to political parties and have long been suspected of laundering money of politicians and political parties. In the recent Punjab assembly elections, leaders belonging to Congress, SAD-BJP and AAP had all visited the Dera Sacha Sauda ashram to seek blessings of Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. However, the Dera chief supported BJP-Akali Dal candidates whereas in the 2007 Punjab Assembly polls, the Dera was said to have thrown its weight behind the Congress.

“Political patronage has allowed Deras to become a parallel state: how come no one talks of 'appeasing' Baba Ram Rahim? He too is bearded,no?,” senior journalist and anchor Rajdeep Sardesai tweeted on Friday.

Before his fall from grace to grass, the Rock-star burly and bearded Baba exercised immense influence across political parties in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

The Dera head fancied himself as a versatile actor, movie director and singer and has released several musical albums. Besides producing and acting in three films, he had reportedly agreed to take part in the reality show Bigg Boss 9 on his own terms.

Here’s a collection of twitter reactions on disgraced Dera chief and his political connections:

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Published: 25 Aug 2017, 7:02 PM