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Satnami Sect’s Guru Baldas Joins Congress, May Alter Caste Dynamics in Chhattisgarh

The move from the influential guru comes weeks after BJP chief Amit Shah’s visit to Guru Ghasidas Ashram in Girodhpuri to woo the community.

Vivek Trivedi | News18

Updated:November 8, 2018, 6:53 PM IST
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Satnami Sect’s Guru Baldas Joins Congress, May Alter Caste Dynamics in Chhattisgarh
The Satnami sect represents the Scheduled Caste community in Chhattisgarh which comprises around 26% of the electorate.
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Raipur: Amid the political hustle and bustle ahead of Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, an important development almost went unnoticed. Satnami sect guru Baldas and his son Khushwant Saheb joined the Congress.

The Satnami sect represents the Scheduled Caste community in Chhattisgarh which comprises around 26% of the electorate. This vote could be crucial in many seats.

“The community failed to get respect during the BJP rule. The ruling party also failed to offer equitable opportunities to every section and prevent atrocities,” said Baldas while joining Congress.

The move from the influential guru comes weeks after BJP chief Amit Shah’s visit to Guru Ghasidas Ashram in Girodhpuri to woo the community.

In the 2013 Assembly polls, Satnam Sena, a political outfit floated by Baldas, had contested elections on 21 seats. The party was not allowed a symbol and failed to win a single seat but played spoilsport for the Congress by denting its traditional SC vote bank.

The BJP benefited and won at least 10 seats where Satnam Sena had fielded candidates.

Baldas as a religious head is said to have direct influence on seats such as Mungeli, Saragagrh, Pamgarh, Saraipali, Bilaigarh, Arang, Ahiwara, Navagarh, Dongargahr and Masturi. Aware of the sect’s influence, The Congress already has given ticket to another religious head from the community Rudra Kumar from Ahiwara seat.

Chhattisgarh’s first Chief Minister Ajit Jogi was widely seen as the leader of this community. Though Jogi claimed to be a tribal, large numbers of Satnami sect members deemed him to be one among them.

However, Baldas has made it clear that it is the religious head who leads the community and no one else.

Many believe that the Satnami Samaj could not only hurt the BJP but also the BSP which is heavily dependent on the support of SC voters. The SC votebank has direct influence on 26 seats of which 13 are presently with BJP, 12 are with Congress and BSP has one.

However, not all members of the Satnami sect are likely to go with Baldas come elections. Sources say many members of the community are unhappy with the guru venturing into politics. Even in 2013, the community vote was divided that led to the dismal performance.

The Congress had also faced the community’s ire in 2013 as many in the sect believed that the party failed to oppose Chief Minister Raman Singh’s decision to lower the reservation percentage for SC community and also opposed ticket given to one the religious heads of the sect.

The community founded by Guru Ghasidas has four dhams in the state— Girodhpuri, Agaman, Bhandarpuri and Khapri. Guru Baldas is the officiating priest of Bhandarpuri dham.

Chhattisgarh goes to polls in two phases on November 12 and November 20 and results would be announced on December 11.​
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