Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat has criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party’s outreach programme of dining with Dalit families, the Deccan Chronicle reported. During a discussion on social harmony in Delhi on Wednesday, Bhagwat asked the party’s leaders to not just eat food in Dalit homes, but also talk to people to get rid of caste barriers.
“Taking food at Dalits’ homes, inviting the media or for publicity stunts is not a good practice,” Bhagwat said, according to Deccan Chronicle. “Leaders should interact with Dalit people routinely and regularly. Only taking food at Dalits’ houses is not sufficient, send family members too to their homes and invite them at your home.”
RSS joint president of the Delhi unit Alok Kumar also agreed with Bhagwat. “Harmony cannot be achieved by merely eating in the houses of the Dalits,” he said, according to The Times of India. “Society will have to make efforts for their economic progress and prestige as well. We have to accept Dalits as part of our family.”
Bhagwat’s comments came in the wake of the BJP launching samrasta bhoj [community dining] programme to spread the message of social harmony. BJP President Amit Shah and Karnataka chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa have visited Dalit and tribal homes in the poll-bound state recently. So have party leaders in other states.
However, earlier this week, an Uttar Pradesh minister triggered a controversy when he reportedly brought his own food and water to a dinner at a Dalit house. Suresh Rana has since rejected the allegation. “The food was prepared in the village, by the villagers themselves,” he had said.