Dera Sacha Sauda violence: Khattar must go, Modi must explain

Is it not for the vote bank politics that Modi has practised that 30 people died in Haryana yesterday?

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter
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Zafar Agha

A hue and cry has been raised against Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in the wake of Panchkula and Sirsa mayhem. Everybody is gunning for Khattar, seeking his resignation for the mess that was created after the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim. After all, over 30 people died in violence in Haryana and trouble spread to Punjab, Chandigarh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh as well.

A self-styled religious group chief was convicted on rape charges and life came to a standstill in Haryana and many other parts of neighbouring states, including in the national capital of Delhi. What a mess has Ram Rahim’s conviction left behind? Somebody has to be responsible for the loss of innocent lives and public property.

Clearly, the Haryana administration failed and failed miserably. It allowed lakhss of Ram Rahim followers to gather in Sirsa and Panchkula where the Dera Sacha Sauda chief had to appear in court. It was evident from the word go that if the verdict went against the Dera chief, his followers would go on rampage. Yet no preventive measures were taken by the Haryana government to prevent rioters from gathering.

It was not just an administrative lapse but a blunder for which heads must roll. The first to be nailed in such a situation is obviously the head of the administrative machinery who is none other than Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. He must go.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been rightly upholding the twin mantra of good governance with accountability. Khattar has failed on both counts. He could not apprehend what might follow the Dera chief’s conviction despite intelligence information about the likely mayhem. So, it is a fit case for Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to resign. It is also the test case for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to uphold the principle that he had been promising the electorate since 2014.

Modi failed to go by his words recently when over 70 children died in a government hospital in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, because of lack of oxygen supply. There were demands for the resignation of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s resignation. But BJP chief Amit Shah dismissed it with contempt and describing the tragedy as “it happens”.

Again, when Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu offered to resign after a rail accident, the Prime Minister asked him to stay put. Now over 30 people have died in Haryana. If the Chief Minister of the state is not held responsible, a wrong signal will be sent.

Now the Prime Minister’s personal prestige is involved. If Khattar is allowed to continue despite such large-scale violence because of his failure, people will feel that Modi believes in winning elections by any means but does not believe in prompt action.

It is the problem with Narendra Modi himself in the case of the Dera Sacha Sauda tragedy. The Prime Minister himself or some key figures in his party seemed to have entered into a bargain with the Dera Sacha Sauda chief during the 2014 elections. Ram Rahim is famous for having a captive Dalit Sikh vote bank spreading over Malwa region of Punjab, parts of Haryana and pockets of Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

So, the BJP seems to have entered a bargain with Ram Rahim for his vote bank support during the 2014 Lok Sabha and Haryana Assembly elections. Look what Narendra Modi said when he visited Sirsa while campaigning for the BJP in 2014:

“ Mujhey Dera sacha sauda ki dharti ko parnam karney ka ausar mila… Mai ney Dera Sacha sauda key logo ko dekha hai. Woh safai ka kaam jabardast kartey hain aur gaon gaon jaa kar kartey hain” (I have had the opportunity to visit Dera Sacha sauda. I am personally a witness to Dera Sacha Sauda followers’ cleanliness drive. They go from village to village and clean them up).

A video of Prime Minister’s speech hailing Dera Sacha sauda is doing the rounds of social media too. Besides, it is public knowledge that the BJP entered into a deal with Ram Rahim for his followers’ vote bank in 2014. It is also a fact that the Congress party had sought Dera support earlier. But BJP’s case is unique where the PM went to woo Dera voters. The Prime Minister, personally, and the BJP particularly have been heaping the blame of indulging in vote bank politics on the Congress for decades.

What about the Prime Minister himself invoking the name of a Dera whose chief had been under the legal scanner for a crime like rape! Was Modi personally indulging in vote bank politics while addressing an election rally in 2014? Yes, he was. Therefore, Khattar was soft on Dera supporters when they were gathering by their thousands in Sirsa and Panchkula.

Well, Khattar must surely go for the negligence that has led to the loss of lives of so many. But Prime Minister Modi must explain his actions too. What was he doing when he hailed a den of crime whose chief was facing criminal charges for raping his own followers, apart from murder charges?

Was it not vote bank politics, Mr. Modi that led to so many deaths in Haryana yesterday?

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