New Delhi: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has criticized BJP’s latest attempt at Dalit outreach by dining with Dalit families. The Deccan Chronicle has reported that Bhagwat told a gathering of RSS and VHP leaders in Delhi to desist from the “drama” and instead indulge in regular interactions with the members of the weaker sections to get rid of the caste system.
Bhagwat’s comments come in the wake of a special drive launched by the BJP to blunt the impact of large-scale protests by Dalit groups in the wake of Supreme Court ruling on Prevention of Atrocities Against SC/ST Act.
The RSS, however, has denied that Bhagwat made any such statement and called the reports baseless and misleading. Arun Kumar, Akhil Bhartiya Prachar chief, said that no such meeting in which discussion on BJP's Gram Swaraj campaign was done took place. “The RSS does not do any discrimination on the basis of caste,” he said.
BJP president Amit Shah has visited Dalit and tribal homes on several occasions; so has BJP’s CM face in Karnataka BS Yeddyurappa during the election campaign in the poll-bound state.
BJP legislators and MPs in many other states have also followed suit in the last one month. Media reports say Mr Bhagwat said at the meeting that taking food at Dalits’ homes, inviting the media or for publicity stunts”. Instead RSS chief asked RSS workers to interact with Dalit leaders on a regular basis.
Reacting to the criticism, UP CM Yogi Adityanath, in an exclusive interview to News18, said, "I and my party have done a lot for Dalits. Congress is guilty of using them as a mere vote bank."
He also said that it was "wrong to say that BJP MPs are only indulging in politics of symbolism by eating at Dalit homes."
Yogi added that some instances of MPs being caught on the wrong foot can’t be described as a rule for the party.
"They were perhaps exceptions, not the rule," the UP CM said.
A recent incident in western UP recently got mired in controversy when there were reports that of state minister Suresh Rana brought his own food and water for dining at a Dalit home.
RSS over the last five years has also run a concerted campaign on social equality by asking its cadres to work for one temple, one cremation ground and one water source for all communities in villages.
Union minister Uma Bharti claimed on Wednesday that she does not consider herself Lord Ram who can “purify Dalits”. Her comments came days after UP cabinet minister Rajendra Pratap Singh said that BJP leaders are blessing Dalits by going to their homes”.
“I don’t consider myself Lord Ram that I could purify Dalits by eating at their home. Instead, I prefer inviting Dalits to my home and serving them personally,” Bharti said at Samajik Samrasta Bhoj in Naugaon’s Gadhmau village, while refusing to take part in the mass meal.
"When Dalits come to our house and eat together it is then that we will become pure," news agency ANI quoted her as saying.