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“Merely visiting their houses is not going to be enough. It has to be a two-way process. We have to welcome members of dalit community into our houses, the way they welcome us,” said the RSS chief at a recently-held internal meeting of the Sangh to discuss social inclusion of the often oppressed and marginalised dalit community.
In the last few weeks, several BJP ministers have visited dalit homes and dined with them as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Gram Swaraj Abhiyan’ mission, initiated to promote social harmony.
“On Ashthami, we worship girls belonging to the dalit community by inviting them to our homes, however, do we send our girls to their houses? ” said Bhagwat.
RSS joint president of the Delhi unit Alok Kumar concurred with Bhagwat.
“Harmony cannot be achieved by merely eating in the houses of the dalits. Society will have to make efforts for their economic progress and prestige as well,” said Kumar.
He added that the idea that a person belonging to a high caste is blessing a dalit by eating at his house shows a casteist and egotistic attitude. And that’s not going to work, he said.
“We have to accept dalits as part of our family,” he added.
Kumar recalled that it was Mahatma Gandhi who showed the way by having food at houses belonging to the dalit community in 1930. “Today, we need to take the next step,” he said.
PM Modi last month launched the ‘Gram Swaraj Abhiyan’. As per his instructions, all BJP MPs and ministers were to spend time in villages that have a more than 50 percent dalit population.
On Thursday, BJP MP Udit Raj also opposed his party’s outreach programme, saying it would not bring any electoral gains to the party, instead it would makes the dalits feel “inferior”.
The North West Delhi MP in a series of tweets said that Rahul Gandhi’s campaign by visiting dalits to have a meal with them is what led to the Congress party’s defeat in the last Lok Sabha elections.
“This is my social view. I can have personal view. Not only the party but the entire country, the ‘Sawarn Samaj’ (upper caste) should think about it. Now, just eating food will not help, it makes them (dalits) feel inferior,” said the BJP’s Raj.
Earlier this week, Suresh Rana, a minister in the Uttar Pradesh government triggered a controversy after he reportedly brought with him his own food and water at a dinner hosted at a dalit household. Rana rejected the allegation saying, “the food was prepared in the village, by the villagers themselves.”