New Delhi: The Rahul Gandhi-led Congress risks forfeiting political mileage over a series of slip-ups in the one-day nationwide fast it organized on Monday to promote social harmony and protest against the alleged dilution of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The embarrassment started with the circulation of a photo of senior Congress leaders of the Delhi unit eating food at a restaurant earlier in the day, before joining the fast.

“The fast was scheduled to begin at 10.30AM and we were busy with preparation till late night yesterday. We went for breakfast at around 8AM. So, there is nothing wrong in it," Congress leader Arvinder Singh Lovely told reporters.

Another set of problems arose with the presence of Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler at the fast venue. Congress came under attack as both are listed as accused in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi.

Sensing an opportunity to corner the Congress over both slip-ups, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) described the event as a “farce" and accused the party of “playing a joke" on Dalits.

“(It was) an attempt by his (Gandhi’s) party to fast-track his politics to burnish his credentials despite people rejecting him time and again," Sambit Patra, BJP spokesperson told reporters.

The turn of events is likely to be a concern for the Congress party which is charting a series of outreach programmes for the Dalit community particularly in the backdrop of the widespread protests last week. “The symbolism of the event is very important. Both the things could put us on a back foot because the issue at hand was very big. The message that goes out is that is there a communication gap or a concerted effort missing while organizing such events," a senior Congress leader said requesting anonymity.

PTI contributed to the story.

Close