At Dalit outreach event ahead of LS polls, BJP cooks 5,000 kg khichdi
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At Dalit outreach event ahead of LS polls, BJP cooks 5,000 kg khichdi

Delhi BJP leaders claimed that a gathering of over 25,000 people from the Dalit community were served at the event.

delhi Updated: Jan 07, 2019 09:16 IST
Soumya Pillai
Soumya Pillai
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
delhi BJP,manoj tiwari,bhim mahasangam
Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari prepares khichdi during Bhim Mahasangam, at Ramlila Maidan, in New Delhi, on Sunday, January 6, 2019. (Vipin KUmar/HT Photo )

With an eye on the Dalit votes ahead of the Lok Sabha elections this year, the BJP on Sunday organised an event titled “Bhim Mahasangam” at the Ramlila Maidan, where 5,000 kg of khichdi was cooked.

Although there were speculations on whether Udit Raj, Lok Sabha member from north-west Delhi and the BJP’s Dalit face in Delhi would attend Sunday’s event, the leader was spotted at the gathering. Udit Raj had earlier expressed his reservations over organising the “maha bhoj”, stating that such events were good for social harmony but will not translate into electoral gains.

While he did arrive a few hours late and gave no explanation for it, his close associates said that he was held up at another even in his constituency.

Along with him, union ministers Harsh Vardhan, Thawarchand Gehlot and Vijay Goel, BJP national general secretary (organisation) Ramlal, members of Parliament from Delhi Meenakshi Lekhi and Parvesh Verma and other senior BJP leaders attended the event.

On Sunday morning, BJP supporters at the Ramlila Maidan waved saffron flags and shouted slogans in support of the party. Delhi BJP leaders claimed that a gathering of over 25,000 people from the Dalit community were served at the event.

Senior BJP leaders said the event was organised to send out a message of unity and inclusiveness. “The ingredients used for the khichdi, such as rice and lentils, were collected from over three lakh Dalit households. If they were not happy with BJP’s governance in the last five years why would they contribute?” said Manoj Tiwari, Delhi BJP chief.

He said the contributions were proof of the support for BJP. Tiwari also took a dig at the opposition parties, saying leaders from all parties were invited to the gathering but none attended it.

There are an estimated 21 to 28 lakh Dalit voters in the Capital, with 12 assembly seats and 46 municipal wards reserved for the Scheduled Caste candidates in the city. In the 2017 municipal elections, the party could win only 21 of the 46 reserved wards. BJP members say that the community will play a decisive role in the Lok Sabha elections.

“We have come from Mundka and we have been supporting BJP for decades now. We are confident that Modiji will come back and the development in the country will continue,” said Prakash, a daily-wage earner who attended the gathering.

At 5,000 kg, the food cooked in a single utensil at the event would be a world record if accepted by the record-keepers.

Chef Vishnu Manohar from Nagpur, who had earlier attempted the world record by preparing 3,000 kg of khichdi in a single vessel, was the man behind Sunday’s preparations too.

Party leaders said that for its preparation, 200kg of desi ghee, 400kg of rice, 600kg of lentils, and 50kg of peanuts, garlic, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro was used.

“There is no dish more perfect to send out the message of unity than khichdi. Khichdi is something that is eaten in 80% of the Indian households. The diet conscious rich eat it and the poor also eat it,” Manohar said.

The Congress, meanwhile, said that the “change of heart” is a fallout of the losses the BJP suffered in the last assembly elections to five states, including Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

“We had numerous instances of Dalit beating and oppression across the nation in last 55 months of this government,” said Pranav Jha, general secretary, All India Congress Committee (AICC). “This government deliberately cut down fund allocated for SC/ST education. It deliberately devised appointments in a way so that the Dalits are disqualified. It advocated dilution of SC/ ST atrocities Act before the Supreme Court. Today if we see a change of heart, it’s because of the electoral drubbing that BJP and its politics has received in five states. Now they stand exposed and whatever khichdi they try to cook there is nobody to partake of it ,” Jha said.

First Published: Jan 07, 2019 09:15 IST