• On first contact, you can sense the warmth in the man. Despite being in politics for four decades now, he has been able to preserve his mild mannerism and overtly friendly demeanour. Last weekend, when journalists received an invitation from him for a press conference, it was apparent that he would spit fire on the BJP for using and abusing him. On Monday, he did betray his deep sense of hurt at being ignored all these four years since the 2014 General Elections, when despite being denied an expected party ticket from Chandigarh, he put his might behind Kirron Kher to ensure her victory. But, despite repeated provocations from the Media, he refused to single out Kher, whom he continued to address as his “younger sister”, as he listed out the failures of the BJP on all fronts and disenchantment of the people with the “arrogant, indifferent and egoistic” party leadership.

Former Union minister and BJP leader Harmohan Dhawan, who heads the Chandigarh Jan Kalyan Manch and had recently raised a banner of revolt against the party alongwith Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha, asserted that as on date he continued to be a member of the party, while at the same time hinting that his future political role would be announced after a meeting with the other two leaders in Chandigarh, scheduled for May 20.


Photo By : Life In Chandigarh

Accompanied by a host of his close associates, Dhawan maintained that people of the Chandigarh Lok Sabha constituency, who had reposed confidence in the BJP and its manifesto and given it a decisive mandate in the hope that many of their long standing issues would be resolved, were now feeling betrayed as none of the 60 promises in the party manifesto for Chandigarh had been fulfilled. In an odd case, where there had been a forward movement, it had either gone against the interests of the targeted beneficiaries or not benefitted them at all. He gave the example of conversion of lease hold properties to free hold, in which the conversion fee had been hiked 55 times, and raising the age limit for recruitment in government jobs to 37 years and not a single job being given.

The party had promised regularization of need based changes in Housing Board houses, but owners had instead been slapped an annual penalty on “violations”. Other promises like giving ownership rights to power of attorney holders, extension and regularization of houses outside the ‘lal dora’ in villages, housing scheme for UT employees, implementation of citizens charter, establishment of Chandigarh service selection board, metro rail project, reduction in collector rate, rehabilitation of slum dwellers, establishment of  Film City, single window system,  implementation of MSME Act, etc have also remained on paper, Dhawan pointed out.

Holding the entire BJP leadership responsible for the sorry state of affairs, he said the wrath of the people is sure to reflect in the next Lok Sabha elections.

As for his own self, he claimed that despite stiff opposition from his supporters he gave his unconditional and whole-hearted support to ensure party candidate Kher’s victory in the 2014 elections, but all these four years he had never been consulted on any issue concerning the constituency on otherwise. In fact, the party first surreptitiously removed Dharam Pal Gupta, and then him, from the core committee of the party. He and his supporters had to face one humiliation after the other, he lamented.

Reaffirming that he had never indulged in any kind of political ‘saudebaji’ during his 40 years political career, nor sought any favours for himself or any member of his family, Dhawan said all political decisions taken by him at different times in his career were guided solely by the people’s interest.

He admitted that after her election, Kher had asked him for bio-data of his wife Satinder, apparently in a bid to get her appointed as nominated councilor in the municipal corporation, but it did not happen. Disagreeing with a suggestion that it might have been done as part of a conspiracy to humiliate him, he, however, clearly signaled a parting of political ways with her.

Condemning the continuing efforts by the BJP to divide the society, he talked about the clear prospects of a non-BJP “maha gathhbandhan” taking shape in the country. If that be so, what about his prospects as a candidate from Chandigarh in the next General Elections? “Time will tell. I continue to live in the hearts of the people I have served,” was all he had to say to that.

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