The coveted post of Chandigarh Mayor has eluded the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the past 15 years. The primary reasons: Factionalism within the party and failure to garner support from the nominated councillors.
Even since the Chandigarh municipal corporation came into being in 1995, the Congress has managed to clinch the post of Mayor as many as 14 times. The BJP won on four occasions allying with SAD.
The party only managed to win four consecutive mayor elections starting from 1996 (won by Kamal Sharma) to 2000 with Shanta Hit Abhilashi being the last BJP last Mayor.
From 2001-2015, Congress went on to win all the elections with 2007 being the lone exception when the Congress lost the post to Akali councillor Harjinder Kaur, who represented the SAD-BJP alliance.
Despite having majority with 13 councillors in 2015, BJP failed to secure the post, which was eventually won by Congress candidate Poonam Sharma. Congress had just eight councillors. Of 36 members, including member of parliament and nominated councillors, 33 voted. Congress candidate bagged 17 votes while BJP candidate Heera Negi managed only 15 votes. One vote was declared invalid.
There are a total of nine nominated councillors. Giving reasons for the poor show of the BJP, Congress president Pardeep Chhabra said they had failed to garner support of nominated councillors who hold the key in the elections.
“The BJP was always against the voting rights of nominated councillors. They have also been opposing the proposals mooted by the nominated councillors,” said Chhabra, adding that this time as well all the nominated councillors are with the Congress as they have liked the working style of the current Mayor.
BJP city unit president Sanjay Tandon blamed the ‘number game’ for the defeats. “From 2000-2005, we had only three members in the MC, from 2006-2011 we had six councillors and from 2011-2015, we have 13 members. All the nominated councillors have a bent of mind towards the Congress since they were elected during the Congress regime. That is why we lost those votes last year as well,” said Tandon.
With mayoral polls round the corner, BJP has been making serious efforts to win the Mayor’s post.
Wary of the factionalism in the party, Tandon was in Delhi on Saturday to chalk out strategies with senior party leaders.
While BJP councillors Arun Sood and Saurabh Joshi are the frontrunners for the Mayor’s post, councillor Mukesh Bassi is in the fray for Congress.
The BJP has been working out on strategies as there are four different camps within the party — that of MP Kirron Kher, BJP city chief Sanjay Tandon, former Union minister Harmohan Dhawan and Former MP Satya Pal Jain.