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Haryana assembly polls: BJP hopeful of support from Dera Sacha Sauda supporters

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hopeful of receiving support of Dera Sacha Sauda for the Haryana assembly polls with the Sirsa-based sect seen to continue having influence among a section of voters despite its chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh being in jail.

BJP workers in Haryana are learnt to have met dera followers to garner their support for the polls. Dera's political committee, however, is tight-lipped about who they would extend support in the elections.

A BJP leader said dera followers know that the law will take its own course in cases relating to Ram Rahim Singh.

"We are a political party and we need to approach everyone for support. They may not be in sangat (together) but we can approach them as individual voters," said the leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

BJP is not alone in seeking support of deras in the state. Leaders from Congress and Jannayak Janata Party are also trying to reach out to leadership of various deras.

BJP leaders hope that support of dera workers will make the contest easier on some seats. Sources said the decision to reach out to sects was taken to improve party's prospects in the October 21 elections.

They said such organisations have influence on some seats, specially those bordering Punjab. The BJP has a target to win 75 of 90 seats in Haryana.

Ram Rahim Singh has been sentenced to 20 years jail for rape and sexual exploitation of two female disciples. He has also been convicted in a case pertaining to murder of a journalist.

A senior member of political wing of Dera, who did not want to be named, said they were holding consultations about their choice for elections.

"We are in process of consultations and are not supposed to divulge any information. Even if we tell our supporters to vote in favour of a particular party two hours before voting, the decision will be well communicated," he told ANI.

BJP is learnt to have secured support of the dera ahead of the 2014 assembly polls.

Voting in the state will take place on October 21 while counting of votes will take place on October 24.