Uncertainty over BJP fielding Kirron Kher

Chandigarh: With just five weeks to go for voting for the lone Lok Sabha seat in Chandigarh, uncertainty continues on whether the BJP will re-nominate sitting member of parliament (MP) for this crucial seat.

With the Congress re-nominating former Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) reposing faith in former Union Minister and ex-MP Harmohan Dhawan, both parties have a headstart and the BJP is lagging on this front.

Though Kher, who has faced accusations from political opponents that she is mostly unavailable in Chandigarh owing to her busy acting schedule, has been staying put here to campaign for herself, top leaders of the Chandigarh unit of the BJP are not moving around with her.

Chandigarh BJP President Sanjay Tandon, who is the son of former Chhattisgarh Governor Balramji Dass Tandon and is a strong contender for the ticket this time, is campaigning separately and seeking votes only for the BJP and not for any candidate.

“We have to ensure that the BJP wins with a big margin in Chandigarh,” Tandon said here, without referring to Kher. Former BJP MP from Chandigarh and lawyer Satya Pal Jain is also trying to get the party ticket for this seat. There is speculation that the BJP could opt for a completely new face the seat this time around, all of which is causing confusion among local BJP leaders.

“Since Tandon is the local unit president and Kher is the sitting MP, the party unit leadership is confused and divided about with whom they should go. We are hoping that the BJP central leadership clears the confusion early so that the party can consolidate itself,” a concerned senior BJP leader told IANS.

Kher, however, is using her charm and, of course, her popular celebrity status to woo the electorate to vote for her on May 19. “Baagon mein bahaar hai! Good afternoon #MyCityMyPeople. Bright, sunny day today. While the temp rises, keep it cool and drink lots of water,” she tweeted with her photograph on Thursday.

Kher, 63, had trounced four-time MP from here, Pawan Kumar Bansal by a margin of nearly 70,000 votes in the 2014 general election, which was her first electoral outing. Another actor from Bollywood, Gul Panag, a former Miss India, who was the AAP candidate in 2014, had managed to get over 1.08 lakh to finish a creditable third in the contest.

Kher, who hails originally from Chandigarh, is regularly posting on her social media accounts photographs with party supporters and the cross section of society she is meeting daily. Be it the youth, housewives, professionals or the elderly, Kher is meeting everyone. There are nearly 84,000 elderly voters in the city.

Listing her achievements over the last five years, Kher claims that she has done a lot for Chandigarh. These include the recently sanctioned flyover on the Tribune Chowk to Zirakpur to ease traffic, allowing need-based changes in Housing Board flats, conversion of residential leasehold properties into freehold, among other things.

Nearly 40,000 new voters have been added to the electoral rolls here since the 2014 general elections. The total registered electorate currently in Chandigarh numbers nearly 6.2 lakh.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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