Chhattarpur (MP), May 3 (PTI) Union Minister Uma Bharti skipped an event organised for having a meal with Dalits near here in Madhya Pradesh, saying she was not Lord Rama who would purify people by having food with them.

Later, she apologised, claiming that she was not aware that she was supposed to have food with them.

At the event held at Dadri village near here two days back, the senior BJP leader had said she does not take part in such community meals as she doesn’t consider herself Lord Rama, who would purify people by having food with them.

“I don’t go to the houses of Dalits to have meals, though I support this trait (breaking bread with the people of scheduled caste category),” said the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister while addressing a function in the village.

She said that instead, she invites Dalits to her home to have food.

“I want to share a secret with you. I don’t take part in ‘samrasta bhoj’ (community meals) because I do not consider myself Lord Rama, who went to Shabri’s home and the Dalits became purified,” she said.

Since the last couple of months, the RSS and the BJP are promoting ‘samrasta bhoj’ (community meals) to spread across the message of social harmony and to eradicate casteism.

“I am not Lord Rama that if I sit with them, they will be purified…instead if they come to our home and sit in our kitchen, we will be sanctified,” Bharti said.

She added that she believes that when she serves food to Dalits on her dining table, “her place … utensils will attain purity.”

“Come to Delhi…my nephew’s wife would prepare food for you, I will serve meal to you, my nephew will collect your plate after you finish eating and wash them,” she said.

“I invite you to my place but I can’t have meal with you because I have already taken it…I love you all. I am with you, always,” she had said.

Subsequently, a statement issued on behalf of Bharti said she had clarified from the dais during the programme that she was not aware that she was supposed to take food in the programme, organised by her close associate Harshu Maharaj.

“I had to go to Papoda in Tikamgarh district, which is 150 kms away from here, and meet Vidyasagar Maharaj.

Therefore, I apologised for not taking meals with them,” Bharti was quoted as saying.

She added that the time has gone when one needed to have food with Dalits to bring about “samrasta” (harmony).

“Instead, now you have to bring them on par politically, socially, in government and administration, among others, to ensure harmony…. Now, we need to bring harmony by overcoming discrimination that is being done with them (Dalits and backwards) in politics,” she said.

Economic empowerment, societal honour and equal participation in the government and administration are the only basic requirements of social harmony, the statement said quoting Bharti.

The Union minister also expressed surprise when media persons asked her after the programme that she did not want to have food with Dalits.

“Now people can even talk things like this,” the statement said quoting her.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.