Amritsar: Indian National Congress (INC) vice-president Rahul Gandhi, accompanied by the party’s Punjab unit president Captain Amarinder Singh, yesterday met with the head of the Radha Soami cult, Baba Gurinder Singh Dhillon, to seek his blessings for his party’s victory in the 2017 election for the State Assembly. The meeting took place during a satsang (audience of disciples of a guru) in the town of Beas, about 45 km away from Amritsar.
Rahul Gandhi had reached the venue by a chartered flight from Bengaluru, landing on a private runway. He first headed to Amarinder Singh’s house where they discussed issues related to the upcoming election in Punjab for about half-an-hour.
Thereafter, Gandhi and Singh had to wait for the godman at his VVIP corridor for one-and-a-half hours. The Special Protection Group (SPG) that surround the INC vice-president were not allowed to carry weapons inside the ashram. The organisation of Baba GS Dhillon had reportedly told them that the dera (Punjabi term for addresses of holy men) was well-equipped to ensure their safety and security.
The INC has been out of power in the State for the past 10 years. This was Gandhi’s second visit to Beas this year. He had earlier been here in March. His mother and INC president Sonia Gandhi had paid obeisance to the Radha Soami Satsang Beas head, too.
These meetings are reminiscent not only of Indira Gandhi’s act of seeking blessings from ascetics and hermits but also of the BJP that had sought out Gurmeet Ram Rahim of Dera Sachcha Sauda for his support to their Haryana election campaign.
One expects more visits by politicians to this ashram as well as to the headquarters of other influential cults of Namdharis and Nirankaris in the run-up to next year’s Punjab elections.