Yogi dines with dalits, heaps praise on Ambedkar

Yogi dines with dalits, heaps praise on Ambedkar
In an apparent damage control bid following attacks on the dalits in parts of the state and get rid of the 'anti-dalit' tag on his government, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday had lunch with the dalits at a village in his home district of Gorakhpur, about 275 kilometres from here.

The venue of the feast, which was attended by around 150 members of the dalit community, had neither fans nor air-coolers in an attempt to make it look like a real village feast during the scorching summers.

According to the sources, Adityanath, who unveiled a statue of dalit ideologue B.R.Amebdkar before attending the feast, refused to sit on a specially made 'asana' (chair) and preferred to sit on the ground with others.

Sources said that the meal was prepared by dalit cooks.

Sources said that it was a simple lunch comprising rice, pulses and a vegetable. Garlic and onions were not used in preparing the meal, sources added.

While unveiling the statue of Ambedkar at Campereganj in the district, the chief minister heaped praises on the dalit icon and said that the BJP led NDA regime at the centre, as well as the state government, were committed to protecting the interests of the poor and downtrodden.

The exercise assumes significance as it came in the wake of wake of large-scale Thakur-dalit clashes in Saharanpur that claimed three lives. Several houses of the dalits were set ablaze in the district also. The arrest of the 'Bheem Army' , a dalit outfit, founder Chandrashekhar, has also not gone down well with the community members. 

The 'lunch diplomacy' also comes within a few days of alleged distribution of soaps, shampoos and perfumes among the members of 'Mushar' (a dalit community) community at a village in Kushinagar district before their scheduled meeting with the chief minister.
 
The report of soap and shampoo distribution evoked sharp criticism from the opposition parties, which accused the BJP of practising ''untouchability'' and sought an apology from Adityanath.
 
BSP supremo Mayawati and other opposition leaders have accused Adityanath of having an 'anti-dalit' mindset and failing to check attacks on the dalits.

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