A CBI court will declare on Monday
the quantum of punishment for Gurmeet Ram Rahim
, also known as 'Rockstar Baba', held guilty of rape last Friday. The punishment can be a jail term not less than seven years but may even extend to life imprisonment.
The 'Love Charger Baba' is also the chief of Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS), a sect that was established on 29 April, 1948, by Mastana Balochistani. So the question arises: What will happen to this Dera after the current chief is incarcerated?
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh (50), who is also a film and music producer, actor and director, has been the head of this dera or group since 23 September 1990. The Indian Express had listed him 96th in its list of the 100 most powerful Indians of 2015.
Some may argue that the DSS has been around since 1948 and is a registered NGO – a trust, and not Gurmeet Ram Rahim owned property and, in that sense, the "day-to-day administration" of the sect will not be affected by his arrest.
However, the fact remains that Ram Rahim's jail term will definitely strongly jolt the sect, which claims to have more than 60 million followers worldwide.
The DSS' main centre is situated in the city of Sirsa in Haryana and the organisation has, reportedly, 46 ashrams across India and branches in countries such as the United States, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Australia and the United Kingdom (UK).
At different times, the sect has backed both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress. Dera Sacha Sauda is the only one among the various Deras which openly asks its supporters to vote for a particular political party.
The Congress Government in the past enjoyed the DSS' support and it reciprocated by providing Z-plus security cover for Ram Rahim.
The sect supported the Congress in the 2007 Punjab election. However, the Shiromani Akali Dal won the overall majority in the State. The Akali Dal allegedly persecuted the Dera supporters during the 2007 violence and when the Congress did not come out in open support of DSS, it decided not to endorse a single party in the parliamentary election of 2009. Instead, it supported particular candidates from both Akali Dal and Congress.
Interestingly, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has reportedly been receiving favours from the Manohar Lal Khattar Government of Haryana. Just a few months back, Chief Minister Khattar had announced tax exemption for six months on the movie Jattu Engineer featuring Ram Rahim Singh.
Khattar, as per reports, had announced the tax exemption at an event in Karnal in May. Earlier, the Chief Minister had started a cleanliness drive along with the Dera chief.
History tells us when powerful cult leaders fall, the organisation/parties with which they are associated face a bleak future if they don't have a powerful second line of leaders.
However, will history repeat itself in case of Dera Sacha Sauda? Only time will tell. But one thing is for sure, after Ram Rahim Singh's exit, the going will not be easy for the sect and its followers.
About the author: Author is an Associate Producer in ABP News Network Pvt Ltd and tweets at @AnuragSason
Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author are personal and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and views of ABP News Network Pvt Ltd.