In a major embarrassment for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, a cabinet minister named Suresh Rana ate food that was ordered from a nearby restaurant instead of the having the meal that was cooked at the house of a Dalit family.
The incident took place in Lohagadh of Aligarh district Monday night when the BJP leader had visited the Dalit man's house as a part of the saffron party's "outreach programme" to the minority community.
Rana, who was accompanied by other BJP leaders reached Rajnish Kumar Singh's house at 11 pm. However, Rajnish said that he was not aware of the visit.
"I was not aware of the minister's visit. Everything appeared preplanned," The Times of India quoted the Dalit man as saying.
"I was asked to sit in the house. Dinner was brought from outside along with bottles of mineral water. It was just a formality or a photo-op for the minister to be at a dalit's house," Rajnish added.
Rana was supposed to dine at Singh's house but ordered in dishes like dal makhni, mattar paneer, pulao, tandoori roti and gulab jamun.
However, the cabinet minister has denied all the allegations. He explained that food was bought from a nearby restaurant, as there were numerous people accompanying him. Rana said that there were around 100 people present at the dinner.
"I had dinner in their drawing room and also ate food prepared by the family. They were well aware about my visit," Rana clarified.
Blessing Dalits by eating at their household
This incident comes at a time when UP chief minister Yogi Aditynath is trying to appease Dalit people to vote for BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha Polls. The CM had spent a night in a Dalit village and ate his meals at Dalit's house in his state.
But Rana isn't the only person, who seems to be obstructing UP chief minister Yogi Aditynath's plans.
Another UP cabinet minister Rajendra Pratap Singh on Tuesday stoked controversy after he said that "the way Lord Ram blessed Shabari, his ardent devotee, by eating her berries, BJP leaders too are blessing Dalits by going to their homes."
Rajendra made this statement while he was in Gadhmau village in Badagaon Block of Jhansi district, during which he also dined at a Dalit household, reported News 18.
"I am a Kshatriya and it is in my blood to work for the safety of religion and society. I would like to thank PM Narendra Modi, who gave us direction. You can see the love and happiness of these (Dalit) people. You can see it on the family's face, is it as if they have got something they would never have been able to afford," the minister said after the dinner.