'Dalit tourism' not in BJP tradition, says UP minister

4 May 2018

Throwing an open challenge to his critics who claimed that he literally gate-crashed into the house of a Dalit and had dinner with them in Aligarh's Lohagarh village, Uttar Pradesh minister Suresh Rana today said that "Dalit tourism" is not in the BJP's tradition.
"I am throwing an open challenge to them to prove that even a single grain of food came from outside. In fact, all food items were cooked in the village and by the villagers.  The programme was organised by the local MLA (Anoop Valmiki) and the village pradhan. As per the plan, a breakfast was planned with a Dalit family the next morning, but I had expressed a desire that instead of having dinner at the community centre, I will have it at the house of a Dalit," Rana said. The minister's reaction came after reports that he may have taken his own food and water. According to reports, the minister and his aides reached the home of a Dalit family in Aligarh to dine with them, but ordered food, mineral water and cutlery from outside as the family was not aware of the minister's visit.
Minister of state (independent charge) for sugarcane development Rana told news agency PTI that at around 11 pm (on Monday), he went to the house located opposite the community centre, and ate food with them, spent an hour with them and also slept there itself. Attacking the Congress, the minister said in an interview: "I want to convey one thing to the leaders of the Congress that the Dalit tourism undertaken by them is not a tradition of the BJP. If they spend a night at the community centre, then they will realize the drive of the BJP. We do not take 7-star facilities along with ourselves during pravaas (night halts). In fact we make pravaas in the existing facilities of the villages."
The UP minister also said: "An issue was raised that heavy mattresses were arranged for me. Does this mean that the people of the village have no right to arrange a good quality mattress? "The bed on which I slept was from the village. The pillow, bedsheet were all from the village itself," Rana asserted.