Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party is pulling out all the stops to repeat its 2014 poll success in Chandigarh, there is a strong sense of déjà vu for Chandigarh BJP facing the same dilemma as in 2014 over projecting its face here.
The BJP remains in a fix over deciding its candidate for Chandigarh’s lone Lok Sabha seat while the rival parties—Congress and Aam Aadmi Party—have already announced their candidates here.
The BJP’s apparent trouble to finalise its candidate for high-profile Chandigarh seat has enabled its main rival –Congress-to go full throttle with its election campaign and also, gain an initial perceptional advantage over the saffron party.
The Congress had last week announced to field its old war horse and four-time former MP Pawan Kumar Bansal while the AAP had announced candidature of former Union Minister Harmohan Dhawan in January from Chandigarh.
The three ticket aspirants of BJP including sitting MP Kirron Kher, city BJP chief Sanjay Tandon and former MP Satya Pal Jain are now keeping their fingers crossed on their political future while the party workers are displeased and left in a state of uncertainty over the delay in announcement of party’s candidate.
In absence of party’s face in Chandigarh, the game of one-upmanship is already ongoing between MP Kirron Kher and Sanjay Tandon. Both of them have been campaigning separately, apparently pushing their individual cases.
While the actor-turned-politician Kirron Kher is busy with her “Coffee with Kiran” and “RuhBaRuh” programmes to connect with the voters, Tandon is reaching out to the voters through “Chai pe Charcha” and its similar versions like “Bus pe charcha” in the city.
The three ticket aspirants were last seen together at the launch of BJP’s national programme “Mein Bhi Chowkidar” campaign but had failed to put an end to murmurs of factionalism in the city BJP unit.
Notably, the first-time MP Kher has been accused by opposition parties of “guest appearance” and “lack of focus” in the city due to her shuttling between Mumbai and Chandigarh during the five years tenure. Kher’s detractors within the party have also targeted her over the similar issue.
“The party workers are eagerly waiting for the announcement of candidate and are hoping that the central leadership does not bring an outsider this time to contest the election. The ticket aspirants are carrying out campaigns separately… Hence, it is important to announce the candidate now to give a boost to party’s election campaign,” said a senior BJP leader.
“Whoever is made the party candidate, the entire party cadre will be backing that candidate,” he said.
“The BJP has already announced its candidates on few seats in neighboring Haryana and Himachal and hence, we are expecting that the candidate from here will be announced by Tuesday,” the party leader added.
Just like today, the BJP had faced the similar dilemma to decide its candidate in Chandigarh in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. At that time, the BJP high command had decided to bring Kirron Kher from outside to quell demands of three top local leaders including Sanjay Tandon, Satya Pal Jain, Harmohan Dhawan (now AAP candidate) to fight from here in view of division of votes.
Charged of being an “outsider” in Chandigarh, political greenhorn Kirron Kher had however managed to register a victory on this parliamentary seat, while riding high on Modi wave and lapping up the anti-incumbency votes against Congress.
The 2014 parliamentary election had seen two actors from Bollywood—BJP’s Kirron Kher and Aam Aadmi Party’s Gul Panag—and Congress’ seasoned politician Pawan Bansal in the fray.
Fighting her maiden election, Kirron Kher was polled over 1.91 lakh votes (42.20 percentage vote share) and she had registered a victory with a margin of more than 69000 votes from her main rival Congress’ Bansal.
The joint capital of Punjab and Haryana—Chandigarh—being a union territory is primarily governed by the Centre and comes directly under the administrative control of the Union Home Ministry.
Chandigarh, which has nearly 6.2 lakh voters, will vote on May 19 to decide its future representative.