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Posted at: May 12, 2019, 7:14 AM; last updated: May 12, 2019, 7:14 AM (IST)

It’s neck and neck between Kher & Bansal

Sushil Manav in Chandigarh

Will it be Kirron Kher again? Or will the four-time Congress MP Pawan Kumar Bansal upset her applecart? As Chandigarh goes to polls on May 19, people in every nook and corner of the city can be seen discussing the question. Riding on a strong Modi wave, actor Kher had won this seat in 2014 by defeating 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 the third position with 1,08,679 votes. This time the AAP has fielded Harmohan Dhawan.

The election, however, is gradually becoming a direct contest between Kher and Bansal. Kher's opponents allege that her performance during the past five years has been dismal and she is again relying on the Modi factor. “Kirron Kher has done nothing in the past five years. These five years have been the years of total neglect for Chandigarh,” alleges Bansal. “Chandigarh slipped to the 20th position in sanitation. In smart city project, Chandigarh came down to the 67th position. Law and order is in a shambles. Women no longer feel safe in the city. Snatchings have become the order of the day. Traffic is in a complete mess. At least 1.70 lakh vehicles enter the city every day. The only solution was Metro. During my time, a decision to bring Metro was taken. A joint venture company was set up for the job. Consultants were also appointed but no further action was taken during Kher's time.” 

Confront Kher with these allegations and she responds sharply. “If Metro could come to Delhi, what stopped Bansal from bringing it to Chandigarh during his tenure?” Kher asks. “And why should I not seek votes in the name of Modi? We have a wonderful Prime Minister who is respected worldwide. He has made all countrymen proud by his deeds. 

“Who Pawan Kumar Bansal has to talk about? Rahul Gandhi? Will people give him votes in the name of Rahul Gandhi? I am proud of our PM and it is my honour to tell people that I am from his party,” she says.

Kher, however, insists she's touching upon local issues as well. “I ensured Chandigarh gets more water from Kajauli waterworks for drinking purpose. The MBBS seats in the city's medical college have been increased from 100 to 150. Bansal could not even spend his own share of MPLAD fund. I had to spend his share after I was elected,” claims Kher.

Real issues ignored

While political parties decide their own issues, common people feel the issues that concern them are often ignored. “We see jobs in the newspapers, but people like us just don't get selected. We never come to know what is the real criteria of selection,” says 21-year-old Preety. 

With polling now just a week away, the electioneering is likely to hot up even more. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and BJP president Amit Shah have already campaigned for Kher, and Modi is scheduled to address a rally on May 14. Kher's husband, Anupam Kher, and producer-director Satish Kaushik have also added flavour to the BJP campaign. Meanwhile, the Congress, too, is leaving no stone unturned to clinch the seat. Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressed a meeting here on Friday, while Punjab Minister Navjot Sidhu and former minister Anand Sharma had campaigned for Bansal earlier.

All said and done, Chandigarh looks set for a gripping contest.


Why should I not seek votes in the name of Modi? We have a wonderful Prime Minister who is respected worldwide. He has made all countrymen proud by his deeds.  Who Pawan Kumar Bansal has to talk about? Rahul Gandhi? Will people give him votes in the name of Rahul Gandhi? I am proud of our PM and it is my honour to tell people that I am from his party — Kirron Kher

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