BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj has courted a fresh controversy by inaugurating a ‘nightclub’ in Lucknow at a time when his constituency has been rocked by a case of rape in which a party MLA has been arrested.
As the pictures of the saffron-clad Hindutva leader at the venue in the posh Aliganj locality of the state capital last night drew criticism and ridicule, his aide claimed that he had been tricked into attending the event, while the organiser claimed that it was not a nightclub but a restaurant where no liquor would be served.
Photographs showing the 62-year-old Unnao MP accepting an idol of Lord Ganesh were put on the social media while TV channels too aired visuals of the event. Though Sakshi Maharaj could not be reached for comments, his representative Ashok Katiyar claimed that a senior BJP leader tricked the MP into attending the function. “The MP was to leave for Delhi but a senior office bearer of the party took him to the function saying that it was organised by his close relative,” Katiyar said.
Even after reaching there, he was not told that he has to inaugurate anything and was made to do it all of a sudden, Katiyar claimed, adding that it could also be part of “some conspiracy”. “Since the 2019 elections are just round the corner, MPs do attend various events and making inquiries about all the things does not always look nice,” Katiyar said.
When contacted, the owner of the establishment Sumit Singh said it was a restaurant that served pure vegetarian food. Asked whether it was a nightclub, Singh said it was a typographical error on the invitation card. He also said that liquor would not be served in the restaurant.
In a similar case last year, a minister in the Yogi Adityanath government Swati Singh had drawn flak for inaugurating a beer bar in Lucknow. Taking a jibe at the ruling party, Samajwadi Party spokesperson Ghanshyam Tiwari said, “It is very clear that the BJP government and BJP leaders have no idea as to what they were doing.” Unnao district has of late been in news for wrong reasons after allegations of rape were levelled against BJP’s Bangarmau MLA Kuldip Singh Sengar. The MLA was arrested by the CBI after the case was handed over to the central probe agency last week.
The state government has been under fire for not taking appropriate action against Sengar. Sakshi Maharaj is known for his controversial remarks including when he asked Hindu women to have at least four children, sparking condemnation from the Opposition which alleged that the ruling party was trying to polarise society. He had also stoked a row by describing Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as a “patriot” and was forced to apologise in Parliament.