By Kulsum Mustafa
This is the poll story of woman disempowerment, BJP style. The party, which had propped up Swati Singh, as a ‘circumstantial’ candidate from Lucknow’s Sarojninagar seat in 2017, allotted her a ministerial berth in the Yogi government, did not replace her seat ticket for 2022 elections. The lady minister was dropped like a hot potato and the ticket was given to Rajeshwar Singh, former joint director, Enforcement Directorate. Interestingly, both Swati and her husband Daya Shankar Singh had been openly lobbying, separately, for the seat, allegedly even at the cost of family discord.
Supporters of BJP say that Swati’s political journey was accidental and that it was mired in controversy right from day one. She was a housewife, who was thrown into the limelight in July 2016 when her husband, Daya Shankar Singh, made some contemptuous remarks against BSP chief Mayawati. This made the BSP launch a major agitation against Singh. He was arrested and had to be expelled from the BJP though the party continued to support him openly.
In solidarity with Daya Shankar, the BJP made Swati the chief of its women’s wing. She was also given the Sarojninagar ticket to contest in the assembly elections. She won the elections, chiefly on what was termed as sympathy vote and was even made a minister when BJP formed the government in the state in 2017. The BJP and its allies came to power with a thumping majority and won 312 of the state’s 403 Assembly constituencies.
In the BJP rule Daya Shankar’s expulsion was quietly revoked and he was appointed vice president of the state unit in February 2018.
Swati’s five-year tenure as minister, entrusted with several portfolios was however mired in several controversies, including drawing a lot of flak for inaugurating a beer bar soon after becoming a minister. Hot-headed and arrogant, as a minister she created many enemies. This always kept her in the news.
Recently she once again started drawing media headlines when stories about her political fight with her husband for the ticket in these elections came to the fore. She not only openly staked her claim for the ticket the second time she even went as far as to put her holdings for the same, right beside his at their residence. She wanted preference over Daya Shankar if the party had to choose the ‘one ticket for one family’ rule. This created a lot of embarrassment for the party. Stories about dropping both in order to avoid any controversy were doing the rounds much before the BJP selected Rajeshwar Singh for Sarojninagar seat contestant.
Though attempts were made to spread rumors that in case the BJP did not give Swati the ticket she would join Samajwadi Party but the party paid no heed to these. It was clear right from the beginning that there was no place in SP for Swati Left high and dry Swati was forced to accept the party’s decision and declare that she was a true BJP loyalist and will abide by the party decision and that there was no question of leaving a party she has been associated for years.
Daya Shankar on the other hand called it a ‘wise decision’ of the party and declared that as he had worked for the victory of Swati on the party’s command he will now work for the victory of Rajeshwar Singh as per the party wish.
It is said that all is well that ends well but in this case, it is not likely that the scars of this will be filled up that easily. The family feud will continue long after the results are announced for the 2022 assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh.