LUCKNOW : A Diwali gift, a thanksgiving gesture or her bid to nurture Amethi Lok Sabha constituency, call it what one may call, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani has got around 15,000 saris distributed to the women of the area in the last two days. Around 2,500 saris are still in stock with the minister’s men in Amethi that would be distributed to the women of remote areas who couldn’t make it to the two day extravaganza.
“We had an estimate of distributing around 12,000 saris, however, we have distributed 15,000 until now and have around 2,500 more saris that would be distributed in the next two days,” Irani’s close aide Vijay Gupta told TOI on phone. The criteria fixed for the distribution of the saris was the village each from one assembly constituency that has voted the maximum to the BJP leader during the Lok Sabha election, BJP leader from Amethi Govind Singh told TOI and added that saris were distributed at one each village at assembly constituencies of Gauriganj, Tilohi, Jagdishpur, Amethi and Salon. It is because of this criteria that the BJP leaders in Amethi saw the sari distribution more as a thanksgiving programme rather than Diwali gift. Going by the criteria, it certainly is a thanksgiving gesture of the minister. However, Gupta denies there was any such criteria and said that until Monday, he got distributed saris at two villages each in Gauriganj and Amethi assembly constituencies.
In the evening, several women were given saris at a small programme at Alok Dhaba in Mushafirkhana area of Amethi district, a BJP source told TOI. On purchase of the saris, Gupta said that the selection was made by the minister herself and all the saris have been transported from the textile mills. Though Gupta refused to divulge the details of the mills location, local BJP leaders said that all the saris had come from Surat in Gujarat. Elaborating further Gupta said that as on Saturday, around 12,000 saris had been transported to Amethi while they already had stock of around 4,500 saris with them. Initially it was planned to distribute saris during Dussehra for which around 4,500 saris were purchased, he said and added but later “Didi (HRD Minister) decided to distribute saris during Diwali.” Interestingly, love for sari among the BJP leaders is nothing new.
About a decade ago, Lalji Tandon also made an attempt to get saris distributed among the women at a programme at Chandra Shekhar Park in Mahanagar. Unfortunately, the programme led to stampede and loss of around 22 lives. The programme then was being held about a week before one of the phases of Lok Sabha election when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was contesting from Lucknow. Whether it is thanksgiving gesture or a diwali gift could be a matter of debate, what is certain is that Irani is nurturing Amethi for the Lok Sabha election 2019 as she has made it a point to ensure a connect with the people of the Amethi whether it is by her visit or by such acts.