Ministers brave mosquitos to visit Dalit villages

New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh Minister Anupama Jaiswal on Friday raked up a controversy by stating that the ministers in the state government visited homes of Dalits (those belonging to lower castes) despite being bitten by mosquitoes.

“Schemes are being made for the benefit all and to ensure proper implementation, ministers are paying several visits, even if mosquitoes bite them all night,” Jaiswal told media.

Minister of Basic Education Jaiswal was responding to the controversy on Minister of State (independent charge) for Cane Development and Sugar Mills Suresh Rana’s recent visit to a Dalit household.

Last week, Rana had gone uninvited to a Dalit family’s house and ordered food from outside. The ‘host’ later told media that he was not even informed about the minister’s visit and that all arrangements such as water, food and cutlery were made from outside.

After Jaiswal came under fire for her comments, she said her statement was misinterpreted.

“My statement has been misinterpreted. I was asked if artificial arrangements are being made for ministers during their visits to villagers to curb the problem of mosquitoes. In response I said that in spite of mosquitoes, we are happy to visit the homes of Dalits,” Jaiswal clarified.

She, however, refused to apologise for her statement.

“We are committed to work for the betterment of all sections of the society. I will not apologise. I will continue to work for the people. [This is the] first time a government has been formed for the youths, for the women and for the common man. We have initiated schemes to uplift every section of the society. And for this every minister is working really hard,” she said.

Jaiswal said she felt good visiting a Dalit household.

“I am not complaining. I am happy. All ministers are happy with the programme. If some minister has been assigned two places, he says no, I want to go to four. Thus, when there is satisfaction in work, it empowers us,” she added.

Criticising Jaiswal, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader CP Rai said the BJP’s Dalit outreach programme was an eyewash.

“We have been seeing this BJP drama for a long time. Rather than having food at a Dalit person’s place, they should ensure that they have nutritious food, they get quality education and livelihood. But BJP is only interested in drama,” he said.

On Thursday, Hindu fundamentalist outfit Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) supremo Mohan Bhagwat had criticised the ruling BJP over its efforts to reach out to Dalits in the state.

“BJP leaders visiting Dalit homes and eating with them is not enough to uplift the community. They must invite Dalits into their own homes as well,” he said.

Bhagwat said that BJP leaders should interact with Dalit people regularly in order to get rid of the caste system.

“BJP leaders should stop the drama and make genuine efforts to reach out to Dalit masses. They should interact with Dalits regularly and routinely,” he added.

Under Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s ‘Gram Swaraj Abhiyan’ mission, several state government ministers visited Dalit villages last one month.