Yeddyurappa hosts lunch for Dalit families, 'not appeasement,' says BJP
Chief of Karnataka state BJP unit, B S Yeddyurappa hosted lunch for Dalit families at his residence on Monday. 33 Dalit families were invited by Yeddyurappa to thank them for their hospitality when he was on his statewide tour.
The Congress, as well as the BJP in Karnataka, are in a race to Dalit appeasement. With its traditional vote bank of Lingayats breaking away into factions, the BJP is compelled to change its caste calculations. Wooing the Dalits, who form the largest chunk of voters in Karnataka is the first place to begin the change in caste calculations.
36 Dalit families were served lunch at Yeddyurappa's Bengaluru residence. Close to 124 from various parts of Karnataka including Davangere, Raichur and Chitradurga arrived along with party functionaries to take part in the "thanks giving lunch". Dalit seer Madara Chennaiah Swamiji of Chitradurga was also present for the lunch. The BJP declared that the move was "BJP's march towards Dalit homes."
B S Yeddyurappa had visited 33 Dalit homes across the state when he went on a 'Janasamparka Abhiyan'. He had invited all the families and on Monday, he along with a host of BJP leaders played guest to close to 124 people from the community. In a poll-bound Karnataka, the never-before event is certainly being looked at as appeasement politics. The BJP however, called it a gesture of gratitude and nothing more.
"Congress appeases to divide the society on the lines of caste and community. BJP is looking at upliftment of Dalits in its entirety. This sharing of meals with Dalits is not specific to Karnataka, the National President himself has done it in every state that he has gone to as Vistarak. Our state president has organised this lunch as a social gesture and as his own gratitude for them having treated him so well when he visited them," said BJP spokesperson Malavika Avinash.
While the Congress depends on its welfare schemes to woo the community, the BJP began with 'dining with Dalits' concept. While it was Amit Shah who initiated the practised from Naxalbari as part of his vistarak program, it has quickly trickled down to state units.
Incidentally, the BJP's Dalit outreach in Karnataka has been pro-active after the drubbing it received in Nanjangud and Gundlupet bypoll despite a Dalit strongman like Srinivas Prasad being the candidate in one of the constituencies. With elections scheduled for 2018, appeasement in various forms are on full display in the state.