Placing a symbolic turban on party candidate Kirron Kher’s head, BJP leader Harmohan Dhawan on Friday called a truce in his campaign against the “outsider candidate’’, and promised to support her in the Lok Sabha election. This should bring relief to much-harried Kher, as Dhawan has a substantial support base in colonies and villages of the Union Territory.
Dhawan’s climbdown came at a mahapanchayat of representatives of villages, held at Khuda Alisher, but the script had been written in advance. Dhawan had earlier received a call from party president Rajnath Singh, asking him to support Kher.
The villagers offered Dhawan a turban as a token of their support and Dhawan, in turn, passed it on to Kher in the presence of senior BJP leaders, including city unit president Sanjay Tandon and former MP Satya Pal Jain.
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Dhawan then went on to dismiss the opposition to Mumbai-based Kher as “differences in a family’’ which, he said, had been settled. “After I joined BJP, all the work that I have done in the city belongs to the party. I request you to support Kirron Kher and ensure that she emerges victorious to make Narendra Modi stronger,” he said.
Dhawan stressed that it was important to ensure that a Congress government was not formed at the Centre after the election and Congress candidate Pawan Kumar Bansal was defeated. The representatives of villagers stated that since Dhawan had agreed to support Kher, so would they.
Responding, Kher stated that she was thankful to Dhawan for putting the turban on her head and, along with it, the responsibility. “I know Dhawanji must have done a lot for you. I assure you that if I get elected, I will ensure that your demands are met,” she told the villagers. “I have no bad feelings about what had happened and even you should not. The heart of villagers is always big. I also praise the big heart of Dhawanji. I respect him a lot.”
Dhawan was one of the three aspirants for the BJP ticket, Tandon and Jain being the other two. Just before the official announcement of Kher’s name last week, Dhawan’s supporters had started congratulating him and distributing sweets, expecting that he would be chosen to contest. After Kher’s nomination, Dhawan had expressed resentment and refused to support her candidature.
When Kher arrived in the city on Tuesday, she was shown black flags, and stones and eggs were thrown at her and her husband Anupam Kher’s car. Since then efforts had been going on to pacify Dhawan. On Thursday, Kher along with Tandon and Jain visited Dhawan. He told them he would meet his supporters on Friday and take a decision.
Dhawan had hoped that, in view of the protests, the party would reconsider its decision of fielding Kher. However, the party high command put their foot down. Contesting as an Independent would have been tough for Dhawan, and a victory almost impossible. So, he relented.
This should end the BJP and Kher’s immediate worries. In the last LS poll, which Dhawan contested as a BSP candidate, he had received 33 per cent votes in colonies against 36 per cent of the Congress’s Pawan Kumar Bansal, while the BJP’s share was only 19 per cent. In rural areas, Dhawan had got 19 pc compared to 40 pc of the Congress, and the BJP’s 31 pc.