BJP tells leaders to woo Dalits but without eating food at their homes
With the Karnataka polls now over, the BJP which is perennially on election mode now has shifted its focus on Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where polls are slated later in the year and of course the grand battle in 2019.
Presided over by party president Amit Shah, BJP office bearers and state party presidents brain-stormed over the upcoming elections and the future course of action in Karnataka where most of the exit polls have predicted a hung assembly. The results for the Assembly elections in the southern state will be declared on Tuesday.
Among the issues discussed at the meeting, the party’s bid to reach out to Dalits was high on the agenda. According to party sources, Shah asked all the office bearers to ensure all out efforts to reach out to Dalits and marginalised sections of the society.
Often accused of being an anti-Dalit party particularly after the Supreme Court’s recent verdict diluting the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the BJP has trying to shed the tag.
Besides eating food at Dalit homes, BJP leaders have been spending nights at SC/ST dominated villages in the country. Following the apex court verdict, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had exhorted all party MPs to spend at least two nights in villages over 50 per cent population of Dalits.
However, in the wake several controversies surrounding BJP leaders taking food at Dalit homes, the leadership cautioned against continuing with the initiative.
“Shah asked all of us to make more efforts to reach out to the Dalits especially the PM’s programme of spending night at Dalit dominated villages. Over 20,000 such villages have been identified and our MPs have spent night in many such villages.
“However, it has been suggested that we should refrain from doing anything which might create a controversy. There has been lot of needless controversies surrounding eating at Dalit homes,” said a party functionary.
Recently Union Minister Uma Bharti skipped a meal with Dalits saying she was not Lord Rama who would purify people by having food with them.
Karnataka BJP president BS Yeddyurappa faced a complaint for “practising untouchability” after he chose to eat food bought from a nearby hotel while visiting the house of a Dalit.
BJP minister from Uttar Pradesh Suresh Rana also courted a similar controversy when he allegedly ordered food from outside instead of eating at the house of a Dalit man he visited.
BJP leaders’ tryst with food at Dalit homes had attracted stringent criticism from none other than RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat who asked them “not to do drama” of taking food at the homes of Dalit families.
Besides the Dalit outreach, the party leaders have also been instructed to work more at booth level and at the grassroots. They have also been asked to endorse the various schemes and good work of the Modi government through social media platforms.
The meeting comes ahead of a convention of the national executives of all the 'morchas' or the wings of the party on May 17 with Modi scheduled to address it.
“Today’s meet Shah shared his vision about the roadmap for the party to undertake in the next one year with special focus to the upcoming assembly elections and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. In the meeting with all the seven party morchas, the Prime Minister will share his vision.
“Both Shah and Modi have been stressing on the need to connect at the grassroots and with the youth. The focus continues to be the same. The task is carry the message of down the last people of how the Modi government and the BJP is pro-poor, pro-farmers and pro-Dalit. The message we carry is BJP means inclusive growth,” said a party functionary.
Informing about the minutes of the meeting, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said that Shah harped on the roadmap of the party retaining power in 2019.
“There are still some people who believe our massive victory in 2014 was a fluke. That is why Shah said 2019 is the target. We not just know how to form a government and efficiently run it we also know how to retain power. Shah exhorted that we will come to power with a massive mandate in 2019,” said Hussain.
With BJP electoral victories continuing Shah also warned against party growing complacent.
“Because of our electoral victory one after the other, there is a sense of satisfaction among the party workers and leaders. But Shah warned that the satisfaction should not give way to complacency. He pointed to the demise of Congress which has suffered the fate because of its arrogance of power and undermining the organisational wellbeing of the party,” said another BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi.
The party has also lined up a host of programmes to mark the completion of 4 years of the Modi government which falls later in the month.