THE appointment of Congress MP Pawan Kumar Bansal as the head of the screening committee for the Lok Sabha elections in some states fueled speculation over whether he would be fielded by the party in the elections. Over the past few months, several names have already been doing the rounds of possible candidates who are vying to be fielded from Chandigarh.
On Thursday, the Congress announced heads of screening committees for all states and union territories. Bansal was made the in-charge of screening candidates for the Lok Sabha elections in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Dadar and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
Opinions now seem divided over what this will signify. A section of the Congress feels that could mean that the party is preparing the ground for fielding some other candidate from the city. Bansal has been the MP from the city for three consecutive terms and once before that. For the past three elections, no other name apart from his was recommended by the Chandigarh unit of the Congress. Even this year, the election committee of the party recommended Bansal’s name that was endorsed by the party president BB Bahl.
After the rail bribery scam wherein Bansal’s nephew was caught accepting bribe, murmurs started about the possibility of some senior Congress leaders who belong to the city making attempts to be named candidate from here. Among the names that are doing the rounds are that of Union Ministers Manish Tewari and Kapil Sibal.
There has been an increase in the activities of Tewari in the city over a period of time. He has been holding interactions with different sections. More recently, he got his Aadhaar card made in the city. Tewari is at present an MP from Ludhiana. His mother is a nominated councillor in the Municipal Corporation. Kapil Sibal’s name has also been doing the rounds. He reportedly has support of Congress leader Venod Sharma, who is believed to have supporters in the Chandigarh unit.
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Negating these speculations, CTCC president BB Bahl said, “Bansal’s appointment as in-charge is an indicator that the party has entrusted him with additional responsibilities. Screening of members is just a 10 day job. This is not going to have any impact on his candidature.”
Some Congress leaders said that the responsibility entrusted on him has raised some doubts. The announcement of the names of candidates is likely by the end of this month or by the first week of February.