Chandigarh: Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim loves good company, and if that happens to be high-profile, even better. From Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to Union Minister Vijay Goel, the self-styled godman has been captured in the same frame with all of them.
And not just seen, the star cast of political leaders and film stars makes sure the Dera Chief comes out looking good and definitely in charge.
The Dera is a politically powerful organisation. With the blind faith that its followers repose in the Dera and its chief, evident in the violence unleashed by them in Panchkula soon after the CBI Court found Gurmeet Ram Rahim guilty of rape in a case that goes back to 2002, it is easy to get them to sway in the direction their 'Pitaji' wants.
This one point service offered by the Dera chief to get his followers to make or break political leaders, to finance his own movies and get his following to endorse a film and make it a blockbuster, has lent him an appeal that is irresistible for anyone who thrives on popular support for a living. Politicians, movie stars, and even sports personalities fit the bill.
A year ago, Haryana Minister Anil Vij visited the Dera at Sirsa and donated Rs 50 lakh for encouraging sports and building a stadium. Barely ten days before the verdict by the CBI special court in Panchkula, Haryana Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma visited the Dera, donating Rs 51 lakh on Ram Rahim’s birthday to ‘promote sports’.
The Dera Chief had once earned accolade from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too. Modi, in October 2014, had also tweeted ‘Appreciable effort by Baba Ram Rahim ji & his team. Will motivate people across India to join Swachh Bharat Mission!’. Haryana Chief Minister Khattar also appreciated his efforts and shared a cleanliness drive wielding brooms with him.
During a visit to the Dera in Sirsa in August 2016, Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel promised central support to the Dera to set up a sports village. During a Clean Delhi campaign, the Dera Chief was seen in proximity with Central Minister VK Singh and also Delhi BJP Chief Manoj Tiwary.
However, the Dera Chief is known to have a soft spot for movies, Bollywood and acting. In the run up to the release of his much-promoted Messenger of God 2, Ram Rahim met with several Bollywood celebrities - ranging from Anil Kapoor to Hrithik Roshan.
The Dera’s media wing made sure to portray it as a flood of congratulations coming Ram Rahim’s way from Shilpa Shetty, Tusshar Kapoor to John Abraham and Sunny Leone. The Dera Chief also shared the stage with Ranbir Kapoor at a movie awards ceremony and his team claimed that during the making of MSG 2 more than 40 departments were handled by the Dera Chief who likes nothing more than being the superhuman that he imagines himself to be.