The Congress on Monday held a day-long fast to protest the alleged atrocities committed against Dalits and minorities under the Narendra Modi government. Congress President Rahul Gandhi joined the hunger strike at Rajghat in New Delhi.

“Communal harmony and brotherhood are threatened under the Modi government,” party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told ANI. “They [the government] want to divide the society. It is the duty of the Congress party to fight against such powers and this is what we have come together for.”

The Congress also tweeted some pictures of its cadres fasting across the country.

Meanwhile, the Delhi unit of the party asked its leaders Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar to leave the protest venue at Rajghat just before Gandhi arrived, News18 reported. Tytler and Kumar are accused of being involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

“This is the dharma of a party and not an individual,” Congress leader Arvinder Singh Lovely said. “They did not fit the criteria.”

BJP calls Congress fast ‘drama’

The Bharatiya Janata Party, meanwhile, called the Congress’ fast a drama and accused the party of playing “divisive politics” ahead of the Assembly elections in Karnataka. “The Congress has been doing politics of appeasement of the Dalits since the times of Nehruji,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, according to IANS. “Today, they are doing a drama to launch party President Rahul Gandhi. This is not fast – this is fast-tracking of Rahul Gandhi’s political career.”

Patra said Gandhi should observe a fast in Karnataka, where, he claimed, 9,080 cases of crimes against Dalits have been registered. Patra said 358 Dalits have been murdered and 809 Dalit women harassed under the Congress rule in the state.

BJP tweets picture of Congress leaders eating before fast

BJP leader Harish Khurana tweeted a picture showing Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee President Ajay Maken, former Delhi ministers Haroon Yusuf and Arvinder Singh Lovely, allegedly having a big meal before they began their fast. “Congress leader called people for a fast at Rajghat, and at a restaurant they are feasting on Chhole and Bhature,” Khurana said on Twitter, accusing the Congress of fooling people.

Lovely claimed the photograph was taken before 8 am. “This is a symbolic fast from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm,” he told ANI. “It is not an indefinite hunger strike. That is what is wrong with these [BJP] people, instead of running the country, they concentrate on what we eat.”