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In poll-bound Punjab, what significance Ravidassia community has for political parties?

By Niranjan Mishra | Updated: Feb 17, 2022 01:11 IST

Jalandhar (Punjab) [India], February 17 (ANI): As Ravidas Jayanti was observed on Wednesday, several political leaders paid obeisance to Sant Ravidas in poll-bound Punjab.
With a few days left in the assembly elections in Punjab, it appears that political leaders are trying to strengthen their foothold among different sections of society.
The most prominent of these is the Dalit population. According to the 2011 census, there is a 2.77 crore Dalit population in Punjab at present. They comprise about 32 per cent of the total population of Punjab. Notably, this number is much more than the total 20 per cent population of Jat Sikhs, the most prominent society of Punjab.
Further, out of the total population of Dalits in Punjab, about 21 per cent of the population belongs to Ravidassia community. The importance of this population can be understood from the fact that due to Sant Ravidas Jayanti on February 16, the date of Punjab Assembly elections was changed from February 14 to February 20.
Its political effect was also visible on February 16 on the day of Ravidas Jayanti, when several political leaders reached Jalandhar, the main place of Ravidas society in Punjab to Varanasi, the birthplace of Sant Ravidas.
In Punjab too, Ravidassia community has the highest dominance in the Doab region and the largest Dera associated with Ravidasia society is in the main city of Doaba, Jalandhar. On Wednesday, on the occasion of Sant Ravidas Jayanti, a huge crowd of people of Ravidas society gathered in Dera Sachkhand Ballan.
Talking to ANI, Dera's chief spokesperson Kulwant Kajla said, "There are about 25 lakh followers of Dera Sachkhand Ballan all over the world. At least 10-15 lakh people attend all the gatherings held here." '
However, Kulwant Kajla rejected the role of Dera in politics. He said, "Satguru Niranjan Das gives the message of unity, equality and brotherhood, he propagates the voice of Ravidas ji Maharaj."
Kulwant Kajla said, "This is the darbaar of Satguru and anyone can come here. Nobody is forbidden to come here. Everyone comes to the darbaar and everyone is welcomed, everyone also gets prasad here. But we have never supported any particular party or leader. We never give political messages during elections."
On the question of support from the government, Kulwant Kajla said, "We never needed to ask for anything from anyone. Our Maharaj ji himself gives it to everyone. We have never asked for anything from any political party or government. This is a religious dera and we only propagate the voice of Ravidas ji Maharaj from here."
ANI also interacted with some followers of this Dera. Shyamlal, a follower of Dera Sachkhand Ballan, said that "whenever leaders or ministers come here, they come according to their own accord. We never support a party from Dera's side."
The Chief Ministers of two major states reached Satguru Ravidas Dham, a major temple associated with this dera.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visited this temple on Wednesday. After visiting the temple, both these leaders expressed their faith in Sant Ravidas and talked about standing with Ravidas society.
Arvind Kejriwal even said, "We want a grand temple of Sant Ravidas to be built in Tughlakabad, Delhi by talking to the central government." (ANI)