BJP MP Udit Raj disapproved of party leaders having food at homes of Dalits as part of an outreach campaign, saying such gestures are not enough to address the aspirations of the community and cited the Congress’ poll defeats despite its leader Rahul Gandhi having meal in Dalit households. He warned that those who do not understand the aspirations of the community will face “consequences”. Raj said that he “failed” to understand why politicians, academicians and intellectuals are not able to grasp the issues of Dalit community. Observing that just dining with dalits will not “satisfy” them, Raj said there is a need to address their aspirations which include respect, equality and rights and . “Having night stay and food at houses of Dalits neither empowers the Dalit families nor benefits the politicians. Rahul Gandhi is an example of it,” Raj said.
The dalit leader, who represents North-West Delhi in Lok Sabha, said having food at a Dalit household is similar to a doctor giving medicines to treat fever to a patient who has a problem in his stomach. Citing the Congress’ defeat in elections despite Gandhi having food with Dalit families and the Bharat Bandh organised by Dalit outfits last month, Raj said that a “lesson needs to be learnt from the protest”.
However, he clarified that he supports Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s outreach programme ‘Gram Swaraj Abhiyan’ as a leader of the Bhartiya Janta Party. The MP had earlier opposed his party’s outreach programme ‘Gram Swaraj Abhiyan’, saying it would not bring any electoral gains to the party and instead it makes Dalits feel “inferior”. The BJP leader said that on April 2, Dalit people had agitated on a large scale in the country, seeking their rights. “They (Dalits) did not protest for why politicians are not coming to have food at their households, but protested to press their demands including their rights, equality, jobs and among others,” he told reporters. “Having food at Dalit households is similar to a doctor giving medicines to treat fever to a patient, but he has problem in his stomach,” he said.
Raj said he has expressed his views as a Dalit activist and social worker and not a leader of a political party. “I have come here to tell that a Dalit has other aspirations. They want respect, jobs, rights and equality. If a doctor doesn’t understand the problem of his patient, he will not be able to treat his disease. “Similarly, we have to first understand the aspirations of Dalit. They (Dalit people) want respect, equality, right, but on other hand, attempts are being made to satisfy them by having food and tea them,” he said. “My opinion is not against the BJP, rather it is aimed at helping it. Rahul Gandhi had food at Dalit houses and lost the election. Dalits managed Bharat Bandh on April 2 without any organisation. Are there not lessons to be learnt from these,” he said.
Yesterday, BJP MP Sadhvi Savitri Bai Phoole also said that politicians rushing to Dalit households to break bread with them but ordering food, utensils and even waiters from outside is an “insult” to the people belonging to the weaker sections. Also, at the event held at Dadri village near Chhattarpur in Madhya Pradesh three days back, Union Minister Uma Bharti had said she does not take part in such community meals as she doesn’t consider herself Lord Rama, who would purify people by having food with them. “I don’t go to the houses of Dalits to have meals, though I support this (breaking bread with the people of scheduled caste category),” she said. Bharti said instead, she invites Dalits to her home to have food.