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Jab they met: Ahmedabad sanitation worker and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal bond over lunch

‘It still feels like I'm dreaming with open eyes. In the last 75 years, no leader or CM invited a Dalit to his house for lunch,’ 20-year-old Harsh Solanki said.

kejriwal lunchHarsh Solanki, accompanied by his family, meets Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal at his residence. (PTI)

Amid the Aam Aadmi Party’s hectic poll campaign in Gujarat, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal hosted a safai karamchari and his family from Gujarat for lunch at his Civil Lines house on Monday.

Harsh Solanki, 20, who works as a sanitation worker in Gandhi Nagar on a contractual basis, had on Sunday invited Kejriwal to his house during a ‘town hall’ the AAP chief had with sanitation workers. Responding to his invite, the CM instead asked Solanki and his family to first join him in Delhi for lunch.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal with Harsh Solanki. (PTI)

Solanki along with his mother Lata Ben and sister Suhani reached the national capital around 10.20 am and the CM’s house at 1.30-1.45 pm.

He hugged the CM and presented a portrait of Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar to him. After lunch, he said: “It is a very proud moment for us… I still cannot believe that I am standing here with Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal sir… It still feels like I’m dreaming with open eyes. In the last 75 years, no leader or CM invited a Dalit to his house for lunch…”

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“When I asked him to come to my house, he said, ‘you first come to my house for lunch, then I will come to yours’. This is a matter of pride for us,” said Solanki who, along with his family, took a flight for the first time to come here. At the airport, the family was welcomed by AAP Rajya Sabha MP from Punjab and Gujarat election co-incharge Raghav Chadha, who received them with folded hands and a shawl.

Harsh studied up to Class 10 but could not continue because of financial circumstances, which forced him to take up a job as a safai karamchari in Gujarat’s Gandhi Nagar at a young age. (PTI)

Kejriwal said, “Today, I got the opportunity to host Harsh and his family at my house. My family members and I were very happy to receive them, and both our families sat together and had lunch. I am very thankful to them for coming all the way from Gujarat.”

He said he will visit Solanki’s house when he is in Ahmedabad next.

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Before reaching the CM’s residence, the Solanki family visited a Delhi government school and a mohalla clinic in West Vinod Nagar. He was given a tour by the principal, Mary Jyotsna.

“I cannot believe my eyes. We don’t have such government schools in Gujarat. I have never seen a government school in Gujarat with facilities like a swimming pool… Such facilities should be created there too children from poor families can get a good education.”

Harsh studied up to Class 10 but could not continue because of financial circumstances, which forced him to take up a job as a safai karamchari in Gujarat’s Gandhi Nagar at a young age.

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His mother, Lata Ben, who visited Delhi for the first time, said, “Last night, I did not believe it when he came home and said, ‘pack our things and be ready at 6.30 am, we are going to meet the Delhi CM tomorrow’. I thought he was joking as always and said, ‘Tu pagal ho gaya hai, jaa so ja’. But when he showed me that tickets were booked and a car arrived outside, I was both shocked and excited.”

“Who calls a Dalit family to their house, that too for lunch?” said Lata, who too works as a safai karamchari at the Gujarat Sports Authority and earns Rs 8,000 a month. She and her son provide for their family of five.

Suhani, Harsh’s sister, 20, studied in a private school up to class 12. She said: “There is no comparison between this government school and the private school where I studied. There, private schools take huge fees, the facility is not up to the mark, and there is partiality between girls and boys.”

Harsh said he would urge those he knows to vote for AAP in the state. “People like the party for its honesty. Hope safai karamchari like me will be regularised once they come to power,” he said.

First published on: 26-09-2022 at 08:28:32 pm
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