Even though the Lok Sabha elections are barely a month away, both the Congress and the BJP continue to be indecisive about the candidates to be fielded from the city. With there being no clarity on who would be contesting, campaigns are yet to pick up pace with the aspirants not sure about their fate.
Polling in Chandigarh is scheduled to take place on April 10 and the last date for filing nominations is March 22.
However, the two mainstream parties have kept the ticket aspirants guessing, with many of them camping in Delhi.
The three aspirants from the BJP — president of the Chandigarh unit Sanjay Tandon, former MP Satya Pal Jain and senior leader Harmohan Dhawan — had been camping in Delhi for the past two days. A number of supporters accompanied Tandon and Dhawan.
Interestingly, both Tandon and Dhawan have got stickers and posters with their pictures along with the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi printed and pasted at several places in the city, projecting themselves as prospective candidates. There is a fierce contest between the three for the ticket.
However, every time that the party releases a list, the aspirants return disappointed with Chandigarh not figuring. It is now expected that in the third list to be released on March 13, the BJP will announce its candidate.
A party leader maintains that till the candidate is announced, campaigning cannot pick up pace. “The party workers do not know who to seek votes for. Public meetings can continue, but these do not have the same impact. Since the election is on April 10, the campaigning will end on April 8. The candidates will not even get a month for campaigning,” he said.
Another factor is factionalism. Since there are many groups in the party, the workers are divided too.
A similar problem is emerging in the Chandigarh unit of Congress. While it was expected that Congress MP Pawan Kumar Bansal would get the ticket from the city, the events that unfolded on Friday added to confusion. While the Chief Election Committee cleared Bansal’s name at the meeting, the announcement was deferred after opposition from a section of the party.
After the name of Bansal’s nephew emerged in the rail bribery scam while he was the railways minister, the going has not been smooth for him. Bansal has been MP from the city for four terms. Prior to the scam, it seemed a foregone conclusion that he would get the ticket. But after the scam, names of other senior Congress leaders had started doing the rounds as possible candidates.
The BSP had announced Jannat Jahan as its candidate several months back. The Aam Aadmi Party selected Savita Bhatti to contest the election from the city. With the two being first-time contestants, more emphasis is being laid on personal contact rather than big rallies.