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Gandhi, who was joined by senior leaders, including Kamal Nath, Mallikarjun Kharge, Sheila Dikshit, Ashok Gehlot, Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken and the party's communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala, arrived at the fast venue at 1pm while the fast started at 10.30 am.

The photo showed Arvinder Singh Lovely in the same blue shirt that he was seen wearing at the protest.

The 1984 anti-Sikh riots cast a shadow over the "Sadhbhavna Upvas" (fast for harmony) with Congress leaders Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler, listed as accused for their alleged role in the riots, being asked to stay away from the stage where Gandhi and the other leaders were sitting.

Defending "feast before fast", Lovely admitted that the picture was taken before 8 am. It is not an indefinite hunger strike. "Instead of properly running the country, they concentrate on what we eat", he told ANI.

The Congress was forced to asked them to leave and it was its admission of guilt, he said.

In what can be termed as a major embarrassment for the Congress party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has claimed that some of the Congress leaders had "chhole bhature" in a restaurant early Mondaymorning before sitting on fast at Rajghat in New Delhi.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra also lashed out at the Congress after a photograph appeared in which Congress leaders were seen eating before the start of a nationwide fast against the alleged communalism and non-functioning of Parliament. "Party leaders all over the country have supported Rahul Gandhi's by keeping a fast today", he added. "It is an attempt by his party to fast-track his politics to burnish his credentials despite people rejecting him time and again", he told reporters.

Later, Sambit Patra responded to Rahul Gandhi's allegations and asked if the Congress president had abstained even from one meal when anti-Dalit violence had happened in places like Mirchpur, Gohana and Jhajjar when the Congress was in power.

Speaking to reporters at Rajghat, Gandhi also said the grand old party will defeat the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in the 2019 general election. While Dalits believed in peaceful protests, it is the opposition which had fanned violence, he alleged.

"Atrocities against Dalits have increased many fold during the Modi regime and now they are trying to snatch the rights given to the community in the Constitution", he said. While Ambedkar was equally committed to protect Muslims, the Nehru government did not do much to protect Dalits and tribals, they said quoting from the letter. "We will stand against and defeat it in 2019 general polls", Gandhi said.