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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

BJP’s SC face not happy with party’s ‘khichdi’ event

The Bhim Mahasamagam event, as it is called, entails cooking khichdi from rice and lentils collected from three lakh Dalit families.

india Updated: Jan 06, 2019 17:29 IST
Risha Chitlangia
Risha Chitlangia
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
West Delhi MP Udit Raj
West Delhi MP Udit Raj (HT File)

Udit Raj, Bharatiya Janata Party member of Parliament from North West Delhi and the party’s Scheduled Caste face in the city, seems to be on a different page on the BJP’s decision to organise a ‘khichdi’

event at Ramlila Grounds on Sunday to garner the support of the community ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Raj says such events would not translate into electoral gains. “Dinning with Dalits, organising bhoj or khichdi, etc, are good for social harmony but would not convert into electoral gains,” he said.

The Bhim Mahasamagam event, as it is called, entails cooking khichdi from rice and lentils collected from three lakh Dalit families.

The MP said that such events, instead, create a feeling of alienation among the community. “The community feels such things only open old wounds and alienate them further….the educated and politically conscious people in the community react negatively to it. Congress president Rahul Gandhi tried it and failed,” he said.

At the Ramlila event, the party hopes to set a world record by cooking 5,000 kgs of khichdi in one utensil. The event is being organised by the SC wing of the party but Raj was not involved in it preparations, said a senior party leader.

Speaking about the event, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari had said on Friday, “The aim is to create positive energy against the negative atmosphere being created by the opposition…this (rice and lentils collected by BJP workers) is the love of three lakh SC families who want to see Narendra Modi again the prime minister of India.”

Reacting to Raj’s views, Tiwari said on Saturday, “We are doing this event for social harmony and not for vote-bank politics. He has discussed all these things with me a few days back. We are planning to involve him in more activities in the coming days. Our government has been working for the welfare of SC/ST community. We have the maximum number of MPs from the community in the Parliament.”

Raj, who is also the national chairman of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations, however, argued that the priorities of the community had changed and it was now looking for a share in power and governance.

“The community wants a share in power, governance and jobs, especially private sector and service sector. Vacancies in government jobs are getting reduced and that has adversely impacted the community. The community feels privatisation and outsourcing of government jobs are design to marginalise them,” Raj said.

In Delhi, the party has been trying to strengthen its base in the community. Raj’s image as a prominent Dalit rights activists had helped the party in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

But he says the party didn’t utilise him. “I was critical of RSS and BJP before 2014. When I joined the party, people came with him me and connected with the party. The party has not utilised me. I wasn’t given the assignment of talking to the community and strengthen the connect between the party and the community,” he said.

In Delhi, 15% of the assembly seats (12) and municipal wards (46 in all the three corporations) are reserved for the SC. BJP members say there are nearly 21-28 lakh SC voters in the city.

The vote bank has largely remained with the Congress or they voted for the BSP in the reserved constituencies. In the 2017 municipal elections, BJP won 21 out of the 46 SC wards.

Referring to the Chattishgarh assembly election results, Raj said the party needed to introspect and take corrective measures. “The Chhattisgarh assembly results show the party doesn’t enjoy that much support of the community and there is a need for introspection. I am raising these issues so that the party can take corrective measures to garner the support of the community,” he said.

First Published: Jan 06, 2019 15:55 IST

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