Top 5 This Week

Related Posts

Who Will Win Chandigarh Seat In Lok Sabha 2024? Will ‘Mayorgate’ Sink BJP!

The centrally administered territory has traditionally been going with the party perceived to be winning at the Centre

One would expect that the infamous ‘Mayorgate’ pictures of the ruling BJP-imposed presiding officer anxiously glancing at a CCTV camera while blatantly indulging in cheating to reverse an imminent party defeat during the process of counting of votes in the tense mayoral elections in Chandigarh, which sullied the centrally administered territory’s fair name as a beautiful and well planned city, should be enough grounds for the voting population to reject the saffron party in the June 1 Lok Sabha polls, but the seemingly done thing is not over just yet.

With the window for campaigning officially closing on Thursday (May 30) evening, the fate of the two main candidates in the fray, who have slugged it out in sweltering heat wave conditions, hangs in the balance.

Who Will Win Chandigarh Seat In Lok Sabha 2024? Will ‘Mayorgate’ Sink BJP!, Lifeinchd
Sanjay Tandon (left) and Manish Tewari

Both candidates – incumbent BJP’s Sanjay Tandon (60) and Congress candidate Manish Tewari (58), who is representing the INDIA alliance and is aggressively being supported by the bloc’s other major constituent, the AAP – are claiming overwhelming support of the electorate.

Amidst the heat wave, campaigning from both sides has largely remained confined to the mornings and evenings. Both sides have had their national heavyweights joining their respective campaigns with well-attended rallies.

Who Will Win Chandigarh Seat In Lok Sabha 2024? Will ‘Mayorgate’ Sink BJP!, LifeinchdWho Will Win Chandigarh Seat In Lok Sabha 2024? Will ‘Mayorgate’ Sink BJP!, Lifeinchd

While the candidates have remained confined to small neighbourhood get-togethers in the city area, and some larger gatherings in the villages and colonies, it has largely been left to the rank and file of the respective parties to make the door-to-door effort, whatever has been possible in the heat.

Both candidates have faced their fair share of opposition from within their parties. Both sides have also been actively indulging in ‘breaking’ dissatisfied leaders from each others’ camps in an apparent effort to portray their rising acceptability by the electorate. How much of these crossovers actually translate into transfer of votes is anybody’s guess.

Being a centrally administered territory (Union territory), Chandigarh is heavily dependent on the central government for just about everything, including its development financing and framing of laws, which need Parliamentary approvals. No wonder then that barring an odd occasion, the electorate in Chandigarh has voted for the party perceived to be forming the government at the Centre.

The odd exceptions, as per available records, have been Srichand Goyal of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (now BJP) way back in 1967 after Indira Gandhi of the Congress took over as India’s first woman Prime Minister in 1966, and Congress’ Pawan Kumar Bansal, who won a second term in the Lok Sabha in 1999 when the BJP emerged as the largest single party and formed a national government with the support of other parties.

Bansal won two more consecutive elections in 2004 and 2009 (his 3rd and 4th term in the Lok Sabha) when the Congress party led UPA governments with Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister. The Congress stalwart was however swept away by the Modi wave in 2014 and 2019, losing to actor-turned-politician Kirron Kher, who was ‘parachuted’ to Chandigarh by the party in 2014.

‘Outsider’ tag

Who Will Win Chandigarh Seat In Lok Sabha 2024? Will ‘Mayorgate’ Sink BJP!, LifeinchdWho Will Win Chandigarh Seat In Lok Sabha 2024? Will ‘Mayorgate’ Sink BJP!, Lifeinchd

Though Kirron Kher, grew up and completed her education in Chandigarh, she was branded a ‘parachute’ candidate because of her long absence from Chandigarh while pursuing her acting career in Mumbai.

By the same arguement, the current Congress-INDIA alliance candidate Manish Tewari, although he was born and brought up in Chandigarh and started his political career here, is being attacked by the BJP as an ‘outsider’ since he has been pursuing his higher politics and career as a Supreme Court lawyer largely while being based out of the National capital.

Starting his student politics from a local college and then graduating to a higher level as national president of the students and youth wings of the Congress under the patronage of Rajiv Gandhi after the assassination by terrorists of his father VN Tewari, a Congress Rajya Sabha member, in Chandigarh just before Operation Bluestar in 1984, Manish Tewari had all along been seeking to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Chandigarh, but his efforts were frustrated each time because of the sway Pawan Kumar Bansal has held over the Chandigarh affairs of the party all these years.

But during this period, Tewari, who held various important positions within the party, including that of its National spokesman, and in the government as Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, managed to win the party nominations to contest from Punjab constituencies located around Chandigarh.

He was first fielded from Ludhiana Lok Sabha constituency in 2004, an election he lost to SAD-BJP candidate Sharanjit Singh Dhillon in a three-cornered contest. In his second attempt he won the seat in 2009, skipped the 2014 elections and won from Anandpur Sahib, a constituency which shares a border with Chandigarh, in 2019 (is incumbent MP).

Now that finally the party high command has picked him over the veteran leader Bansal, matching a younger BJP candidate with a younger candidate of its own, Tewari is apparently under pressure to make the opportunity count.

The AAP factor

As a representative of the INDIA bloc, he has the cushion of support from a resurgent AAP, which surprisingly emerged as the largest single party in the Municipal Corporation Chandigarh elections held in 2021 in its very first foray and has since wrested the Mayor’s post from the BJP with the help of the Congress after the Supreme Court overturned a fraudulent election result earlier this year.

After several rounds of floor crossing by councilors from different parties since the 2021 General House elections, the AAP and Congress currently have a collective strength of 20 councillors in the 35-member House. Though the electorate votes differently in a National election compared to a local election, Manish Tewari is banking heavily on these elected representatives to provide him lead from their respective wards.

He also seemingly has the added advantage of BJP’s huge loss of face due to the recent mayoral election misadventure, and the long absences from, and neglect of the constituency by incumbent BJP MP Kirron Kher, resulting in the Union territory plummeting from the top 5 in the national swachhta rankings (though some lost ground has been recovered in the latest assessment).

Debate challenge

Drawing strength from his long years of experience as a parliamentarian, a Union minister and as a National spokesman of his party, Tewari has been persistently challenging his main rival Tandon, a first time Lok Sabha candidate, to a public debate on local, national and international issues from any neutral non-partisan platform.

Tandon, who has headed the Chandigarh unit of the party for 10 long years and run the election campaigns for his party in several states, has steadfastly avoided taking on the challenge and posed a counterchallenge to Tewari to explain his shifting political playgrounds – from Ludhiana to Anandpur Sahib to Chandigarh – and asking him where next after Chandigarh.

Tandon more grounded in Chandigarh

To his advantage, Sanjay Tandon, son of a BJP stalwart Balramji Das Tandon, who started his political innings as a Sangh pracharak and later remained deputy chief minister and minister in several SAD-Jana Sangh/BJP governments in Punjab, and later governor of Chhattisgarh, has been more grounded in Chandigarh as compared to Tewari, who most times was away to Delhi and hence not rooted in the Union territory.

More recently, during the Covid pandemic Tandon, a chartered accountant and cost accountant by training, was at the vanguard of efforts by the party and an NGO run by him to organize food packets for vulnerable sections of the population and blood donation camps for Covid patients.

More organised campaign

The BJP and Sangh cadres also appear to be more organized and coordinated in their campaigning as compared to the largely individualistic efforts of the Congress and AAP leaders and workers at the grassroots level.

Will Modi resonate?

As in the case of previous two Lok Sabha elections, when BJP candidate Kirron Kher was banking heavily on the Modi factor to tilt the scales in favour of the party, Sanjay Tandon is also hoping that Modi will once again resonate in the electorate. The difference this time, however, is that there is no wave in favour of Modi, and his personal charisma is on the wane. Modi has also skipped Chandigarh in Lok Sabha 2024 elections while campaigning for the party in neighbouring Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

With apprehensions rising of a low voter turnout in the highly urban constituency due to the intense heat wave, parties are concerned which way the tide will turn in such an eventuality on D-day (June 1). Voting will take place on June 1, Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Vote we must before proceeding on our planned weekend outings, if any, to maintain the good health of our cherished democracy. It is our right, as well as responsibility.



Popular Articles