Coming down hard at politicians who visit Dalits homes and have a meal there for the sake of votes, BJP MP Savitri Bai Phule dubbed such acts as a 'fake show'. The sharp comments from the Bahraich MP come in the backdrop of a controversy over the recent visit to a Dalit home by a UP government minister belonging to her own party.
"85% people of India belong to backward caste & these people are poorest. Those eating food at the residence of Dalits they are neither using utensils of their house nor are they eating the food cooked there. This is all a fake show and is not going to help," Phule said.
She said statues of B R Ambedkar were vandalised but the culprits not put behind bars and added that mere propaganda will not serve any political purpose.
"No action is being taken against people who are vandalizing BR Ambedkar's statue, they should do justice with the people of backward castes. The Constitution exists because of a man who belonged to the backward caste," she added.
"I disagree with the trend of politicians going to Dalits' homes. The father of our Constitution Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar was against 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?" an angry Phule asked while speaking to PTI.
Raising more questions, the parliamentarian asked why even after decades of independence she was referred to as a 'Dalit MP'.
"The President is termed as Dalit President. Had Dr Ambedkar's Constitution been followed in letter and spirit, the situation would have been different," she asserted. She said if anyone wanted to enhance the honour of Dalits, they should have meals cooked by them and in their utensils.
"Statues of Dr Ambedkar are damaged but arrests are not made. Dalits are murdered. Instead of ensuring justice to them, this propaganda will not help anyone", Phule said.
In recent times, several leading politicans, including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, had dinner at Dalit households. A recent such visit by a UP government minister Suresh Rana got mired in controversy as there were reports suggesting he may have brought his own food and water. The minister and his aides reached the home of a Dalit family in Aligarh to dine with them, but ordered food, mineral water and cutlery from outside as the family was not aware of the minister's visit, according to reports.
Pictures of a well laid out dining table with an assortment of dishes and cutlery went viral on the social media. Minister Rana however rejected the allegations saying, "In fact, food was prepared in that village by the villagers themselves." Last month, BJP MP Phoole had taken part in a rally in Lucknow to protest against her own government alleging there was a "conspiracy to end reservations".
She said "there was a conspiracy to end reservation and her government just playing the role of a mute spectator". Significantly, Phoole is not the only senior BJP leader who has raised questions about the trend of leaders rushing to Dalit homes for meals.
At the event held at Dadri village near Chhattarpur in Madhya Pradesh two days back, the Union Minister Uma Bharti had said she does not take part in such community meals as she doesn't consider herself Lord Rama, who would purify people by having food with them.
"I don't go to the houses of Dalits to have meals, though I support this (breaking bread with the people of scheduled caste category)," she said. Bharti said instead, she invites Dalits to her home to have food.
OneIndia News with PTI inputs