Karnataka BJP president B S Yeddyurappa, who along with other party leaders, has been attempting to woo Dalits by dining in their homes, reciprocated the hospitality of 33 Dalit families by hosting a lunch for them at his Dollars Colony home in Bengaluru on Monday.
The lunch for the 33 families was Yeddyurappa’s way of showing gratitude for hosting him during a statewide tour in May. “When I visited your homes earlier this year, I was able to see your lives from close quarters. You were gracious hosts despite living in poverty,’’ the BJP’s Chief Ministerial candidate for the 2018 state elections told his guests.
During his visits to the Dalit homes in May, Yeddyurappa was embroiled in a controversy. The Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) had alleged that Yeddyurappa was eating food bought from hotels, instead of consuming what was cooked in the kitchens at Dalit homes he had visited.
On Monday after laying out the vegetarian spread, Yeddyurappa said he had decided to ignore all the criticism and focus on the uplift of Dalits. “Those who want to criticise me can keep criticising me. I will continue to visit Dalit houses,” said Yeddyurappa.
In his tenure as the first BJP Chief Minister of Karnataka between 2008-11, Yeddyurappa had managed to some extent to win the support of the Dalit community which has traditionally aligned with the Congress. Both the Congress and the Opposition BJP are wooing the Scheduled Castes who make up nearly 23 per cent of the population in Karnataka, along with STs ahead of the 2018 Assembly elections.