UP minister dines at a Dalit household in Aligarh, orders food from outside

The visit by cabinet minister Suresh Rana, under BJP’s ‘Gram Swaraj Abhiyan’, was part Yogi government’s outreach to the Dalit community

Photo courtesy: PTI
Photo courtesy: PTI

Biswajeet Banerjee

A cabinet minister in the Uttar Pradesh government, Suresh Rana, has landed himself in controversy after he ordered food from a posh eatery while dining at the house of a Dalit family in Aligarh.

The visit, under Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) ‘Gram Swaraj Abhiyan’, was part Uttar Pradesh (UP) government’s outreach to the Dalit community. Under the ‘Gram Swaraj Abhiyan’, BJP ministers and legislators have been asked to spend at least a night in a predominantly Dalit village. They have been asked to have dinner at a Dalit household, where food is cooked by the members of the family.

Defending his cabinet colleague, Rajendra Pratap Singh alias Moti Singh remarked that “Dalits should feel honoured because ministers and legislators are dining with them.”

During his stay at Lohagarh village in Aligarh on Monday, Rana ordered a meal of matar paneer, dal makhani, tandoori roti, mixed vegetables and a dessert from outside. Bottles of mineral water were also served to the minister and other BJP leaders who accompanied Rana.

The host, Rajnish Kumar, claimed he was not aware that minister would come and have dinner at his residence. “I was asked just to sit with the minister while the food as he ordered food,” Kumar said.

“It was all pre-planned and was just a photo-opportunity for the minister,” Singh said.

When Rana was confronted as to why he had ordered dinner cooked from outside, he said that the food was cooked at Dalit’s house was eaten up by several leaders and officials. “I didn’t want to burden them. I ate a mix of food cooked by the Dalit family and the food brought from outside,” the minister said.

It is also alleged that Rana slept at a government building where local officials provided him with air coolers and mattresses so that the minister could have a nice stay.

The BJP’s campaign is being seen as part of party’s massive outreach to the rural poor, especially the Dalits, as it gears up for a string of assembly elections leading to the Lok Sabha polls due next year.

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