Bina Kak with her singer-daughter Amrita. (Surendra Jain Paras)
Jaipur, Sept. 14: Rajasthan minister Bina Kak has put Gandhian chief minister Ashok Gehlot in a spot with her presence at an event promoted by a beer brand.
Kak, the minister for tourism who also looks after child and womens welfare, attended the promotion of gourmand Karen Anands book Men Can Cook at a five-star hotel on September 11 at which a foreign beer company was a sponsor.
The 56-year-old minister, always elegantly dressed in silk saris, is said to be close to actor Salman Khan and has acted in films such as Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya, God Tussi Great Ho and Salam-e-Ishq.
Her daughter Amrita has sung hit numbers like Just Chill and Tujhe Aksa Beach Ghuma Doon in Salman-starrers.
Kak admitted being present at the event, but said she went by chance.
I was reading about Karen Anand and her book for the past few days and since some of my friends were participating, I just went there by chance, said the minister, who runs Umang, a home for the mentally challenged in Jaipur.
But her chance visit has stumped her party. Congress spokesperson Satyendra Raghav, while denying any knowledge of Kak attending the event, acknowledged that it was wrong if a minister participated in a programme promoted by an alcoholic beverages company because the party abhors liquor culture of any kind.
Chief minister Gehlot, whose main election plank was curbing liquor consumption, had cracked the whip on alcohol shops soon after coming to power last year.
The government closed down 156 liquor outlets near education institutions and temples and also regulated their time from 10am to 9pm, a cut of three hours.
Following the attack on young girls in a Mangalore pub earlier in the year, the chief minister had left the Congress red-faced by saying decisions we take will be to ensure that the culture of boys and girls going hand-in-hand to pubs and malls for drinking is stopped.
The government later cancelled licences of 800 liquor shops, hiked the licence fee of bars and raised VAT to 20 per cent on Indian-made foreign liquor and beer.
Kaks attendance has given the BJP, in disarray over internal conflicts, a chance to score political points.
Suman Sharma, the president of the BJPs women wing, said it was ironical that Kak stayed put at such an event from 7pm to 11pm, though the Congress had consistently blamed the Vasundhara Raje regime for promoting liquor culture.
However, jewellery exporter Mahavir Sharma, who was present at the event, said Kak stayed for an hour and did not drink.
The BJP pressed for Kaks resignation. We want to ask Gehlot, who is proud of closing down liquor shops, what action he will take against his own minister? We want her to resign and have given the government three days to seek her resignation, Sharma said.
Ram Pal Jat, a former BJP general secretary who is a staunch Raje supporter, echoed Sharma. The Congress had raised a hue and cry when Raje had walked the ramp for the cause of khadi in Bangalore in 2006. What about following ethics now? he said.
The Congress had then wondered how a chief minister could walk the ramp, mix with the glitterati and yet relate herself with the poor and downtrodden.