Updated: January 19, 2022 3:58:01 pm
A minister and sitting MLA, a husband who fancies his chances, and both of them throwing their hat in the ring — this is a domestic fight that is fast capturing national attention.
Swati Singh, the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Women’s Welfare in the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh, and her husband Dayashankar Singh, the BJP state vice-president, are both in the race for a party ticket to contest the upcoming election from Sarojini Nagar in Lucknow district. Swati Singh is the sitting MLA from the seat that votes on February 23, in the fourth phase of elections in UP.
Dayashankar was in the news in 2016, when he allegedly made derogatory remarks against Mayawati. As BSP leaders protested and Mayawati raised the issue in Rajya Sabha, the BJP suspended Dayashankar and he was soon arrested from Mau.
However, Swati Singh lodged a counter complaint at the Hazratganj police station against BSP chief Mayawati and her then party colleagues Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Ram Achal Rajbhar (both have since been expelled from the BSP) over a protest they attended in Lucknow against Dayashankar’s comments. In her complaint, she alleged that the BSP leaders had made derogatory comments against her, the couple’s daughter and Dayashankar’s sister.
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After Dayashankar came out on bail, he had dared Mayawati to contest the 2017 Assembly election against his wife Swati. With Swati being declared the BJP candidate from Sarojini Nagar for the election that year, the couple had jointly toured several districts where they raised the issue of the BSP leaders allegedly raising “obscene” slogans against the women of their family and calling the remarks a “disrespect to Kshatriyas”.
Days after BJP’s landslide victory in the 2017 elections, the BJP revoked Dayashankar’s suspension and inducted Swati into the Yogi Cabinet.
As minister, Swati Singh had landed in a controversy when an audio recording, purportedly of her allegedly threatening a police officer for registering an FIR against a real-estate giant, became public. CM Yogi Adityanath had then summoned her.
The first sign of Dayashankar’s ticket aspiration became public when, earlier this month, he sent messages wishing people on Makar Sankranti, with his name and designation, along with the constituency name — “Vidhan Sabha-170 Sarojini Nagar”.
On Tuesday, when contacted by The Indian Express, Dayashanakar said, “I will contest if the party gives me a ticket… I am a hardworking worker of the party.”
When asked if his wife, the sitting MLA, is also in the fray from the same seat, Singh said, “The party has seen our work. Let them decide.”
While Swati Singh was not available for comment, her staff who answered the phone said the minister was busy with door-to-door campaigning in the Sarojini Nagar Vidhan Sabha “as she is preparing to contest from there”. A source close to her also shared a photograph of a flex board with the minister’s photo and the name of the constituency.
A BJP leader said, “Dayashakar’s photograph is missing from posters of Swati Singh and similarly, her photographs are not on posters of Dayashankar. Ultimately, the party will take a decision based on winability. But if Swati Singh is denied a ticket, that may send a wrong message among women voters.”
Recently, the BJP had appointed Dayashankar as a member of the ‘state joining committee’ that was formed to screen leaders from other parties who wished to cross over to the BJP.
In 2007, Dayashankar had contested from Ballia Assembly seat, but stood fifth. He was students’ union president of Lucknow University in 1999, after having been elected its general secretary the year before, both times as a nominee of the ABVP.
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