Amid row over 'samrasta bhoj', BJP MP says eating food with Dalits not enough, meet their aspirations too

BJP MP Udit Raj has said that just eating food with Dalits is not enough, meeting their aspirations is important too.

Amid row over 'samrasta bhoj', BJP MP says eating food with Dalits not enough, meet their aspirations too

NEW DELHI: In a twist to BJP's 'Dalit outreach programme (Samrasta Bhoj), its MP Udit Raj on Friday said that eating food with the 'downtrodden and the untouchables' is not enough and efforts should be made to meet their expectations too.

Udit Raj, who is BJP's Dalit face, today disapproved of his 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.

The BJP MP even cited how Congress suffered an electoral drubbing despite its leader Rahul Gandhi having a meal in Dalit households.

"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.

Issuing a warning to those doing politics in the name of reaching out to Dalits, Udit Raj said that those who do not understand the aspirations of the community will face "consequences". 

The BJP lawmaker also wondered why politicians, academicians and intellectuals were not able to grasp the issues concerning the Dalit community.

Raj observed that just having meals with Dalits will not "satisfy" them and stressed that there is a need to address their aspirations which include respect, equality and rights.

Udit Raj, who is a BJP MP representing North-West Delhi in Lok Sabha, said that 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 Rahul Gandhi's example, Udit Raj said that a "lesson needs to be learnt from the past incidents and Dalit protests".

Raj, however, clarified that he fully supports Prime Minister Narendra Modi's idea of taking everyone together and backed the 'Gram Swaraj Abhiyan' as a leader of the BJP.

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, Dalits 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.

Remarks from Udit Raj came in the light of several controversies involving BJP leaders and their reported goof-ups during the Dalit outreach campaign.

On Thursday, BJP MP Sadhvi Savitri Bai Phoole had 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. 

(With PTI inputs)