BJP MPs say minsters should invite Dalits home for dinner, not vice versa

BJP’s much-hyped programme ‘samarasta bhoj’, which includes having food with the Dalits at their residence, has drawn flak from within the party. Many MPs have asked how it would improve Dalit welfare

Photo courtesy: Twitter/ @BJP4UP
Photo courtesy: Twitter/ @BJP4UP
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Biswajeet Banerjee

The discordant voices have started emanating within BJP over the party’s much-hyped programme of ‘samarasta bhoj’ (dining to promote equality) that includes having dinner at the residences of Dalits saying it is nothing but denigrating ‘Dalits’ and this act has started alienating the party from the concept of ‘Sarv Samaj’ (inclusive society).

“BJP MPs should stop this drama of having dinner at the residence of Dalits. Is it really benefitting Dalits if upper caste Hindus go and have food at the residence of a Dalit in an obscure village? This is nothing but cheap publicity,” said Savitri Bai Phule, the BJP MP from Bahraich, UP. “Is this act not increasing the caste divide by identifying one as Dalit and other as upper caste,” she asks.

“Now reports are emerging that though ministers are having dinner at a Dalit’s house, the food is not cooked by them. Instead it is brought from outside. Ministers and their acolytes are also served mineral water. Tell me which Dalit drinks mineral water at his home that too in a village,” questions a livid Phule.

The well-crafted criticism of the sitting MP has hit BJP where it hurts the most. Recently, the Cane Development Minister Suresh Rana addressed a chaupal in Aligarh and had dinner at a Dalit’s house but the food was brought from a eatery.

Another minister, this time Agriculture Minister Surya Pratap Shahi organised a chaupal (meeting) in a village in Saharanpur district on May 2 and had dinner at a Dalit’s house. There too the food was cooked by a caterer. He was even served dry fruits at breakfast.

“Do you think what BJP ministers and leaders are doing will help Dalits in any way,” she asks and replies: “No, if the BJP is really serious about the welfare of Dalits, it should ensure that government benefits reach the targeted audience.”

Savitri Bai Phule is not the first to raise questions over BJP leaders having dinner at the residences of Dalit. Earlier Union Minister Uma Bharti, while addressing a rally in Madhya Pradesh, had said that she was not in favour of leaders and ministers having food at a Dalit’s house.

“Instead we should invite Dalits to our residence. We should cook food for them and our family members should wash their utensils. This will be samarasta (equanimity) in true sense,” Bharti had said.

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