Lucknow, May 4: While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with its Dinner-with-Dalits programme, is trying hard to reach out to the community, its ministers are ruining the plan by their controversial statements. Uttar Pradesh minister Anupama Jaiswal on Friday sparked fresh controversy, saying BJP leaders visit Dalit homes braving “mosquito bites the whole night”.

Anupama Jaiswal, who holds Basic Education portfolio in Uttar Pradesh government, said BJP leaders and ministers are visiting Dalit houses in villages to ensure the benefits of government schemes reached the poorest sections of society. She said the leaders inform them about government programmes and schemes so that they can get benefit from them.

“The ministers are visiting villages to ensure the benefits of government schemes reached the needy. They have to face mosquito bites the whole night, still, they visit the villages,” Jaiswal was quoted as saying by PTI. The minister later claimed that she made the statement when asked whether BJP leaders bring AC, coolers and food from outside while their stay at Dalit homes.

“I was asked if we use ACs, coolers to keep away mosquitoes and order food from outside during our visit. I said it’s not true and we live in the same condition as them even if mosquitoes bite us,” she told news agency ANI. Earlier this week, a controversy erupted after UP government minister Suresh Rana reportedly brought with him his own food and water at a dinner hosted at a Dalit household in Aligarh.

Rana, however, had rejected the allegation, saying, “The food was prepared in the village, by the villagers themselves.” The BJP faced major embarrassment after its MP Sadhvi Savitri Bai Phoole questioned the stay of politicians at Dalit households, saying ordering food, utensils and even waiters from outside is an “insult” to the people belonging to the weaker sections.

“I disagree with the trend of politicians going to Dalits’ homes. The father of our Constitution Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar was against caste system so those who follow him should not use caste for political purposes. Why only Dalit bhojs (meals) are hyped in the media and not similar events at places belonging to any other caste?” an angry Phoole had told PTI.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath recently spent one night each in Amroha and Pratapgarh and held “chaupal” to take feedback on government schemes. (With PTI inputs)