LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath today visited a cow shelter run by SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav's younger daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav where he gave tips on hygiene and better upkeep of bovine animals.
Accompanied by deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma and ministers Suresh Khanna and Swati Singh, Adityanath took a round of the 54 acre 'Kanha Upvan' shelter in Sarojini Nagar here, raising many a eyebrow in Lucknow political circles.
A saffron saree clad Aparna and husband Prateek Yadav welcomed Adityanath, who fed jaggery and fodder to the cows.
The Chief Minister stressed on more hygiene in the areas where cows were kept and gave a direction to ensure availability of green fodder to them, an official release said.
He suggested that sheds be extended in the shelter and underlined the need for better utilisation of by-products of cows.
Taking stock of the ongoing works for extending sheds for 700 additional cows and bulls under the Kanha Ashray Pashu Kalyan scheme, Adityanath said they should be made ready at the earliest.
The chief minister asked minister Khanna to set up 'gaushalas' (cow shelters) in other districts of the state as well and improve the conditions in the existing ones where cows rescued from smugglers would be provided shelter and medication.
There are 1,850 bovines at the Kanha Upvan including 900 cows, 950 bulls and calves.
Adityanath is himself involved in the 'gau sewa' (serving the cows) at his ashram in Gorakhpur. His visit evoked much speculation in the political circles as this is the second time he was meeting Aparna and Prateek after taking over as the UP chief minister on March 19.
The couple had called Adityanath when he was staying at a VVIP guest house here. The meeting lasted for about 20 minutes and it is learnt that couple had invited the chief minister to visit Kanha Upvan.
Though Prateek is not actively involved in politics, Aparna had contested the recent Assembly elections losing the Lucknow Cantonment seat to Rita Bahuguna Joshi of BJP.
Aparna was made SP nominee much before the Assembly polls were announced and managed to get a nod from SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, the step-brother of her husband, despite feud in the family.
Asked about Adityanath's visit, Aparna said, "He is everyone's CM and we invited him. Yogi Adityanath too runs cow shelters in his Gorakhpur, so we requested him to visit ours and give us some tips on how to improve it," she said.
Incidentally, both the chief minister and Aparna belong to Uttarakhand and there were posts on social media claiming that they were relatives.
Aparna said that she was happy that the chief minister accepted her invitation and would remain indebted to him for the gesture.
On the performance of the Adityanath government, Aparna said it was too early for her to comment.
Aparna had sprung a surprise earlier too when she was present at an event in Lucknow addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Last year she had clicked a selfie with Modi at a family function that he attended.
The Lucknow Municipal Corporation provides financial aid to the shelter, established in 2010, which is run by Jeevashraya, an NGO. Aparna and Prateek are patrons of the NGO.