Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday had lunch with around 500 Dalit people in his home district of Gorakhpur. Over the last few months, the state government has been facing flak over caste-related clashes in Saharanpur and reports of soap being distributed among Dalit families in Kushinagar district before the CM’s arrival there. The Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) had recently directed leaders not to make special arrangements for the CM’s visits.
On Wednesday, the CM was in Harnampur village of Campierganj tehsil of Gorakhpur district on the invitation of BR Ambedkar Jankalyan Seva Samiti to unveil the statue of B R Ambedkar in a park. After this, the CM joined the group for lunch cooked in the same park.
“Sahbhoj (community lunch) means that there is equality in the society and no discrimination on caste. There is also no feeling of untouchability,” said Adityanath. He added that the central government was developing five places as “Panch-teertha” in honour of Ambedkar. He said Ambedkar was source of inspiration behind the decision of demonetisation taken by the Central government last year.
Fateh Bahadur Singh, BJP MLA from Campierganj constituency, told The Indian Express, “An ordinary carpet was laid on the ground where CM sat with members of the Ambedkar Jankalyan Seva Samiti, who all were Dalits. CM and all others were served food in ‘pattals’ (leaf plates) and were served water in kulhad (earthen pot).” “CM had lunch and kept sitting until others finished. Every thing was arranged by the local villages and the Samiti,” MLA said.
Campierganj Assembly segment is dominated by most backward castes, followed by Dalits, Brahmins and Thakurs.
BR Ambedkar Jankalyan Seva Samiti president Ram Awadh said, “The event of ‘sahbhoj’ (community lunch) gave a message of social harmony. I was lucky to get opportunity to sit close to the CM.” He added that it was the first such ‘Sahbhoj’ organised in the area and that Dalit women cooked the lunch. Earlier in the day, CM also inaugurated a new civil terminal at Gorakhpur airport.