RSS Condemns BJP’s Dining With Dalits Outreach, Calls it “Staged”

Manmohan Vaidya told The Quint that RSS believes the Dalit outreach must be “natural” and not staged.

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RSS Condemns BJP’s Dining With Dalits Outreach, Calls it “Staged”

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) Joint-Secretary Manmohan Vaidya on Friday, 5 May said that the organisation did not agree with the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) idea that its party leaders must spend a night at a Dalit’s house and also share meals with them.

Criticising the BJP’s Dalit outreach attempt, Vaidya added that while connecting with Dalits was important, it should be “natural” and not staged.

Speaking to The Quint, Vaidya said that the Sangh was of the opinion that staging such shows will not benefit anyone.

The RSS does not agree with the BJP’s stance on party leaders spending a night at a Dalit’s house and sharing meals with them. It is the Sangh’s opinion that staging such a show is not going to benefit anyone. 
It is a practice to invite a Dalit girl to the house during Navratri in North India, for food and worship. It is important to connect with people but it should be done in a natural way, and not by using media or political propaganda.

“Stop the Drama”

Earlier in the day, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat also came out strongly against the BJP having meals with Dalit families.

According to Deccan Chronicle, Bhagwat reportedly told a gathering of RSS and VHP leaders that the party must desist from “drama”, but instead opt for regular interactions, with the members of the socially weaker sections.

The programme Gram Swaraj Abhiyan was launched by the BJP after Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April asked all party MPs and ministers to spend time in villages having more than 50 percent Scheduled Caste population. The move comes in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on Prevention of Atrocities Against SC/ST Act and the widespread protests that followed.

“Act of Politicians an Insult to Weaker Sections”

However, it’s not just the RSS that is opposing the programme.

Bahraich MP BJP Sadhvi Savitri Bai Phoole also voiced her concern on Friday, 5 May, saying that politicians rushing to Dalit households to have bread with them but eventually ordering food from outside is an "insult" to the people belonging to the weaker sections.

She said statues of B R Ambedkar were vandalised but the culprits were not put behind bars and added that mere propaganda will not serve any political purpose.

I disagree with the trend of politicians going to Dalits’ homes. The father of our Constitution Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar was against the caste system. So those who follow him should not use caste for political purposes. Why only Dalit bhojs (meals) are hyped in the media and not similar events at places belonging to any other caste?
Sadhvi Savitri Bai Phoole told PTI

"The way media reports are showing that food, utensils and waiters are outsourced...It is an insult to Dalits. It is a mockery of Dalits," she said.

Raising more questions, the saffron-robed parliamentarian asked why even after decades of independence she was referred to as a ‘Dalit MP’.

“These Visits Would Lead to Poll Defeats”

BJP MP Udit Raj too has opposed his party's outreach programme, saying it would not bring any electoral gains to the party, instead it makes Dalits feel "inferior".

The North West Delhi MP in a series of tweets said that Rahul Gandhi, who visited the Dalits to have food with them, led to the Congress’ defeat in the last Lok Sabha elections, and the same would happen with those doing it now.

"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 feel inferior," Raj said.

The MP, who himself belongs to the Dalit community, said that his views were not against the party.

Having night stay and food at houses of Dalits neither empowers the Dalit families nor benefits the politicians, Rahul Gandhi is a live example of it. Instead of pretending through night stay and eating food, it would be better if politicians come forward for food, clothes, houses, employment and treatment of needy dalits.
Udit Raj, BJP MP from Delhi

(With inputs from PTI, Deccan Chronicle)

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