Uttar Pradesh 2017

The meteoric rise of Swati Singh

Swati Singh   | Photo Credit: Rajeev Bhatt

Eight months is a long time in politics and the rise of Swati Singh shows you just that.

Ms. Singh (38) was one of the five women ministers who took oath on Sunday as the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government took charge in Uttar Pradesh. She was appointed as a Minister of State (Independent charge).

Till July last year, little was known about Ms. Singh, a former lecturer-turned-homemaker, till BJP leader Daya Shankar Singh, her husband, kicked off a major storm after he used derogatory and sexist language against BSP chief Mayawati while alleging that she auctioned election ticket.

The incident was widely condemned and an embarrassed BJP, promptly expelled Mr. Singh for six years even as the leader later apologised for the remarks.The incident injected fresh blood into BSP’s core Dalit cadre and Ms. Mayawati’s party took to the streets in protest.

However, the scenario quickly changed when senior BSP leaders, including Ms. Mayawati’s lieutenant Naseemuddin Siddiqui were accused of using sexist references for Ms. Singh and their minor daughter. That is when Ms. Singh shot into limelight and a case was also registered against the BSP leaders, including Ms. Mayawati.

Since that day, it has been an upward curve for her. She was promoted by the BJP in a bid to neutralise the damage done due to Mr. Singh’s remarks against Ms. Mayawati. A Dalit-Thakur caste polarisation matrix also gained currency as Ms. Singh launched a campaign against the BSP.

Ms. Singh earned herself a ticket from Lucknow’s Sarojini Nagar, a seat the BJP had never won before. Former minister and incumbent Sharda Pratap Shukla, who fought on an RLD ticket, lost his deposit as Ms. Singh secured the seat with a handsome tally of 1.08 lakh vote.

Luck smiles on Raza

Another interesting story is that of Minister Mohsin Raza. The BJP did not field a single Muslim candidate in the election but picked Mr. Raza, who took oath as a Minister of State, in its Council of Ministers. Mr. Raza is a member of the minuscule but influential Shia community, and does not hold any political office.

Little known in State politics, he enjoys the image of the socialite in Lucknow, and had tried his luck at modelling and acting in the past. Mr. Raza’s father-in-law runs one of the oldest crockery shops in Lucknow —Azim Ali and Sons. The family enjoys a good rapport with Union Minister Rajnath Singh, who is Lucknow MP.

The number of Muslims elected to the Assembly, however, has dropped from a significant 68 in 2012 to around two dozen this time.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2022 5:18:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/uttar-pradesh-2017/the-meteoric-rise-of-swati-singh/article17547680.ece

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