Mumbai: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has criticised BJP leaders and asked them “not to do drama” of taking food at the homes of Dalit families. Mr Bhagwat said that instead, regular interactions are needed to get rid of caste barriers, not the occasional symbolic gestures. Senior leaders of the RSS and Vishwa Hindu Parishad met on Wednesday in New Delhi for a discussion on social harmony, where RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat referred to the initiative started by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had recently asked BJP leaders to increase interaction with Dalits by visiting their homes.
BJP president Amit Shah has visited Dalit and tribal homes on several occasions and has had meals with them. Under instructions from party bosses, many BJP leaders have started arranging programmes involving meals at the homes of dalits. The RSS chief said that such interactions should be done both ways — Dalits should also be invited by upper caste people to their homes.
Sources said that Mr Bhagwat said at the meeting: “Taking food at Dalits’ homes, inviting the media or for publicity stunts, is not a good practice... Leaders should interact with dalit people routinely and regularly. Only taking food at Dalits’ houses is not sufficient, send family members too to their homes and invite them at your home.” VHP working president Alok Kumar told this newspaper: “Mr Bhagwat spoke at a meeting about social harmony.
He said we should build relationships with Dalits in a routine manner as a part of lifestyle. We should send our children to the homes of Dalits and invite them to our homes.” For the past couple of months, the RSS and BJP are promoting samrasta bhoj (community dining) to spread the message of social harmony and to eradicate casteism. A recent such visit by UP minister Suresh Rana got mired in controversy as there were reports suggesting that he may have brought his own food and water.