Mr Prasad had lunch with village-level Dalit entrepreneurs at Patna's Hotel Maurya

Patna:  As part of the BJP's Dalit outreach programme, union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had lunch with some members of the community at a five-star hotel in Patna on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, Mr Prasad, who is the minister for law and IT, laid the foundation for a wooden bridge at the Dalit-dominated Cheema Kothi area of the city.

Accompanied by Nand Kishore Yadav, a BJP minister in the Bihar government, and two party legislators, Mr Prasad reached the Dalit basti and garlanded a picture of Dr BR Ambedkar.

The BJP top leadership had instructed the party's lawmakers to visit Dalit-dominated areas and listen to the problems faced by the community besides making them aware of the schemes that the government has launched for them. The leaders were also told to have a meal with Dalits. 

The BJP youth wing organised a community lunch for Dalits in Patna

While Mr Yadav and the two BJP legislators stayed back to have a community lunch with Dalits that was organized by the BJP youth wing at a venue nearby, Mr Prasad left for Hotel Maurya, where he had an official engagement.

Later, Mr Prasad tweeted pictures of him having lunch at the hotel with some Dalit entrepreneurs, an event that was scheduled.

Mr Yadav sought to clear the air on the union minister's absence at the community lunch in which 'khichdi' was served.

"He had an official engagement that was much publicised, for which he was getting late. So, he had to leave. Don't read anything more into it, said Mr Yadav.

At the IT event, Mr Prasad felicitated rural women entrepreneurs belong to the scheduled caste and scheduled communities for their pioneering work in providing digital services to the poor.

"They are the torchbearers of our efforts to empower common people," said Mr Prasad.