The Chandigarh parliamentary constituency has largely shown the tendency of going with the trend at the national level, as out of the 13 elections held since 1967, the city has elected candidates of the party that came to power at the Centre 11 times.
Of these 13 occasions, former Union Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has won the seat four times, Satya Pal Jain of the BJP twice and Jagan Nath Kaushal of the Congress also on two occasions.
Riding on the strong Modi wave, actor Kirron Kher won this seat in 2014 by defeating her nearest rival Bansal of the Congress by 69,642 votes. Kher polled 1,91,362 votes against 1,21,720 votes received by Bansal.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Gul Panag, another actor, secured third position with 1,08,679 votes.
Panag is unlikely to contest this time, as the AAP has already announced Harmohan Dhawan, who won the Chandigarh seat in 1989 polls on the Janata Party ticket, as its official candidate.
This is to be seen whether Kher is able to repeat her performance in 2019 when the Modi wave is missing, but the BJP has been trying to sail through the hustings on nationalistic wave, following the Pulwama attack and airstrikes in Pakistan.
Though the BJP and Congress are yet to announce their candidates, Kher and Bansal have already launched their campaign.
While Sanjay Tandon, state president of the BJP for the past over eight years, and Satya Pal Jain may pose a threat to Kher for the BJP ticket, Bansal faces challenge from Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, whose husband Punjab Minister Navjot Sidhu enjoys blessings of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and former minister Manish Tiwari.
“It will not be easy for the BJP to deny ticket to Kher because besides she herself being a towering personality, her husband Anupam Kher, too, enjoys a clout in the saffron party, as he has always been defending Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said a senior BJP leader.
As a first-time MP from Chandigarh, Kher’s performance has been quite creditable – her utilisation of MPLAD funds is 110 per cent as per the website of the MPLAD by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, while the website of the PRS Legislative Work suggests that she participated in 38 debates, asked 336 questions and introduced one private member bill during her present term.
“Last time we voted for her knowing well that she will not be seen after her victory, because we wanted Modi as the PM. But, she has surprised us, as her presence in Chandigarh during important events has been even better than full-time politicians,” says Parul, a resident of Sector 50, Chandigarh.
Amarjeet Singh, a resident of Sector 18, however, says Bansal, who is being considered the best bet for the Congress, could not be written off easily, as having won this seat four times, he is a strong candidate.
“However, the result of Chandigarh seat will depend more on who is coming to power at the Centre. With the euphoria of airstrikes still weighing heavy on people’s mind, the BJP candidate is likely to have a head start,” he adds.
Baldev Raj, an elderly citizen from Sector 23, says the UT status and the tag of “City Beautiful” are very dear to Chandigarh residents. “People have not liked the way Chandigarh has slipped from third to 20th rank in Swachh Survekshan 2019 under the BJP regime,” he added.
Kirron Kher, a prominent television and film personality, won her debut election from Chandigarh in the wake of Modi wave in 2014 by defeating former Union Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal by a margin of 69,642 votes. Kher polled 1,91,362 votes against 1,21,720 votes obtained by Bansal. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Gul Panag, another actor, secured third position with 1,08,679 votes.
BJP: Kirron Kher, Sanjay Tandon and Satya Pal Jain
Congress: Pawan Kumar Bansal, Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu and Manish Tiwari
AAP: Has already announced Harmohan Dhawan as candidate
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