Row over UP minister Swati Singh inaugurating beer bar; opposition blasts BJP govt, Yogi seeks explanation
Uttar Pradesh minister Swati Singh has landed herself in a soup after photographs of her inaugurating a beer bar went viral on social media, prompting Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to seek an explanation from the minister.
The photographs stirred a controversy with the opposition parties questioning if this is the true face of the BJP government.
"The CM has taken a cognisance of the minister inaugurating a beer bar in the presence of senior officers and sought a clarification from them," an official spokesman said here tonight.
Pictures show Minister of State for Women Welfare Swati Singh -- accompanied by two senior IPS officers Gaurav Pandey (SSP, Rae Bareli) and his wife Neha Pandey (SP, Unnao) -- inaugurating the beer bar by the name of 'Be the Beer' in Gomtinagar on May 20.
In the pictures, Singh is seen cutting a ribbon with a group of people, including some bureaucrats, standing alongside her.
Swati, wife of Dayashankar Singh who was suspended for allegedly making derogatory remarks against BSP supremo Mayawati, is said to have 'inaugurated' the bar on May 20.
The political circles were taken by surprise, as that there has been no such precedence and that the bar she inaugurated does not even have a valid licence so far.
Swati Singh is a new entrant to politics and came into the limelight last year after she launched a blistering campaign against BSP chief Mayawati, who in retaliation to her husband Dayashankar Singh's objectionable remarks made similar comments about Swati and her daughter.
She won from the Sarojini Nagar assembly constituency in Lucknow and went on to become a minister.
'Real face of BJP', says opposition
While BJP spokespersons refused to comment on the matter, some even saying they were not aware of it, opposition parties have blasted the minister for her conduct.
Taking the opportunity to attack the Yogi Aditynath government, opposition parties questioned if this is the real face of the new dispensation.
"This aptly shows the contradictions in the ruling BJP... They say one thing, but practice something else," Samajwadi Party spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said.
This comes at a time when women in Uttar Pradesh are at the forefront of protests against liquor, he said.
Congress leader Dwijendra Tripathi said this incident shows the real "chaal (action), charitra (character) and chehra (face)" of the BJP government.
"They speak about things only to woo the public... Their leaders talk about prohibition while a minister of their's goes to inaugurate a beer bar," he said, adding it is also not clear if the bar is licenced or not.
Ajay Kumar Lallu, the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party in the state assembly, said the incident had further exposed the "double character of the BJP leaders".
BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi came out in her defence, saying since liquor is not banned in the state, her action is not illegal.
"It has to be known under what circumstances she had taken part in the inauguration... It is said that a woman is the owner of the outlet and the minister was there to promote entrepreneurship among women," Tripathi said.
The minister herself has not made any comment on the issue so far.
Explanation sought from IPS couple
Senior IPS officers Gaurav Pandey and his wife Neha Pandey, who accompanied Swati Singh to the inauguration have also been asked to explain.
Explanation has been sought from the IPS couple as to how they left headquarters without the permission of their reporting authorities.
Both officers were marked present on duty when they were attending the bar inauguration.
Inspector General of Police - Lucknow J.N. Singh has sought explanation from the two police officers.