In the 2007 Uttar Pradesh election, BSP leader Mayawati took the helm of the state on the support of Dalit and Brahmin. But once there, the ruling party failed to subdue the deep seated caste biasness in the social set up. It is evident from the functioning of Mid-day meal scheme which is marred by the age old prejudices imposed on it.

Frequent spate over mid-day meal cooked by SC/ST’s or Dalits depicts the deep extent of caste war in UP. Recently, two major incidents of Sonbadhra and Kannauj is fine example of state government’s failure to free caste bound mid –day meal scheme.

On June 20, 2011 the students of government schools in Ghosra Sonbhadra refused to partake lunch prepared by a Dalit cook, which lead to clash between Dalits and backwards. Similarly, in Bhadurpur Manjhganva in Kannauj, food cooked by Valmiki woman led to public violence.

There have been several such incidences where violence between Dalits and Non Dalits has become a common phenomenon. Even in some districts people have stopped sending their children to schools. Reportedly, few years back over 1000 students in Kannauj and rural regions of Kanpur left schools in protest against Dalit cooks.

The rot in the MDM has affected the belt of Auraiyya, Kanpur Dehat, Mahoba. It is prevalent in schools of Shahjenpur, Badaun and Pilibhit districts.

The failure of Dalit Chief Minister can be gauged from the fact that teachers even in government schools boycott the food prepared by the Dalits. As per the survey by Department of Education, Lucknow, in 40 percent of the schools in the state, both teachers and students refuse to consume the government sponsored mid-meal.

Moreover, the ground reality is that state government’s decision to employ Dalit women to cook mid-day meals in schools turned out to be an unsuccessful attempt.

Following the strong resistance from the upper caste, the ruling party had to withdraw the changes made in the order. It also replaced the compulsory appointment of SC/ST and OBCs for the post of MDM cooks.

Interestingly, the Dalit icon Mayawati soft attitude on pro-Dalits, pro-Schedule Caste agenda is seen as a move ahead of Assembly elections to be held in 2012. Such frequent caste based issues might damage the political prospects of BSP.

According to a survey by Right to Food Committee in 2007, it came into light that in 216 schools, examined by the team, the ratio of SC/ST and Muslim cooks was 17 percent, 3 percent and 1 percent respectively. Rest of the 79 percent work force hailed from upper caste.


JPN