BJP MP Udit Raj Friday said party MPs and MLAs having food at Dalits homes would not meet the aspirations of the community, which was looking for employment and protection of their rights. “I have no objection if any leader goes to some place for dinner, tea and stay. But is it the solution?…Had Dalit youths agitated in Bharat bandh on April 2 because they wanted others to visit their home for feast? They had agitated for their rights and protection of reservation,” Raj said. The Dalit leader said having food at a Dalit household was similar to a doctor giving medicines to treat fever to a patient who has a problem in his stomach. His comments come days after Uttar Pradesh minister Suresh Rana’s dinner at the house of a Dalit man created controversy as it was reported that he brought his own food and water.
The MP, however, clarified that he supported the party’s Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, whereby elected representatives from the party have to spend at least two nights in Dalit-dominated villages and “restore” the faith of the community in the BJP as per an appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” “But aspirations and expectations of Dalits are still far. There is a need to catch these aspirations and expectations,” the MP from north-west Delhi said.
Raj agreed that some downtrodden families could “feel happy” if a “panditji or thakur saahab” visited Dalit areas. “But…The section which is aware and is feeling disgruntled, they say that others (the leaders) visit their areas for dinner to make them feel that they were ‘neech’ (lower caste) and others were ‘oonch’ (upper caste). This is causing a reaction,” he said. He also referred to the Congress’s poll defeats despite its party chief Rahul Gandhi eating at Dalit households and said Dalits had taught Congress a lesson in 2014.
In a veiled attack on the Supreme Court’s order on the SC/ST Act, he said even the dowry laws had been misused, but were not “diluted”. Thousands of Dalits had hit the roads on April 2 against a Supreme Court’s order that allegedly diluted the provisions on SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The community has also been protesting against a University Grants Commission order for a revised reservation system for teachers’ recruitment in universities.
Raj, who is the chairman of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations, said the new system has almost finished quota for SC, ST and OBC candidates in teachers’ recruitment in universities.