Ujjain: BJP president Amit Shah along with Dalit sadhus and others on Wednesday took a holy dip at the ongoing Kumbh Mela here as part of the 'Samrasta Snan' (social harmony bath) at the Valmiki Ghat (bank) of Shipra river, overcoming reservations from certain quarters.
Shah arrived here from Indore to take part in the month-long Simhastha Kumbh and joined the Dalit sadhus and other saints in the holy bath billed by the BJP as the 'Samrasta Snan' with an eye on the assembly elections in the politically sensitive Uttar Pradesh next year.
The 'Samrasta Snan' comes at a time when RSS is organising a series of functions to draw Dalits and tribals into its fold in the wake of the backlash caused by its chief Mohan Bhagwat's statement calling for review of the reservation policy before the Bihar Assembly polls last year.
Later, Shah also had a 'Samrasta Bhoj' (social harmony feast) with Dalit sadhus.
Prior to the 'Snan', the BJP chief accompanied by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and others took part in a "samagam" (meeting) at Valmiki Dham in which Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad head Narendra Giri, Juna Akhara Peeth's head Awdheshanand and Valmiki Dham's Peethadheeshwar Umesh Nath among others participated. Later,they all proceeded to take a dip at the Valmiki Ghat.
"BJP is the only party which believes in strengthening the country's culture and fosters the feeling of world as one abode, one family (Vasudevkutumbhkam)," Shah told reporters here.
"It (snan) holds more significance as today is the jayanti of Shankracharya, who treaded the path of unifying the main currents of thoughts in Hindu religion at a young age of 32," he said.
Kumbh is also the subject matter for management students as crores of people converge here without any invitation, he added.
The sadhus who were earlier averse to the 'social harmony bath' today softened their stand saying they had misunderstood the concept.
They said they were under a wrong impression that the snan was confined to Shah and the Dalits. After learning that the bath will see people from all castes, they said they no longer hold any grudge against it.
"Water is for everybody and saints of all hues have taken bath together. We have no reservation now against the snan," Juna Akhara Peeth's head Awdheshanand said.
Earlier, we had a reservation as we thought that only Dalit sadhus along with Shah will take the bath, pontiff Narendra Giri said.
On the occasion, Valmiki Dham's head Umesh Nath Maharaj appealed to political parties and saint community to propagate nationalism above caste, sect and community.
Earlier, the Dwarka-Sarda and Jyotish Peeths Shankracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati and Akhil Bharatiya Akahara Parishad president Narendra Giri- had deplored the move saying that the sadhus have no caste and all are free to take a holy dip during Kumbh.
According to media reports, Shankracharya had recently said there should be no politicking to divide Sadhus at Kumbh.
Also, senior RSS leader and Bharatiya Kisan Sangh vice president Prabhakar Kelkar had on May 8 said the announcement of social harmony bath gives an impression that earlier the Dalits were discriminated against during Kumbh.