Indian Express

LS polls: Celebrations at Bansal house but name not announced

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At Bansal’s residence in Chandigarh on Friday. (Jasbir Malhi) At Bansal’s residence in Chandigarh on Friday. (Jasbir Malhi)

Even as some members of the Chandigarh unit of the Congress celebrated and distributed sweets on the occasion of “approval” of Pawan Kumar Bansal’s name as the party candidate from the city, the AICC did not make any formal announcement on Friday.
There is speculation that there has been some opposition to Bansal’s candidature from a section of party leaders.

A meeting of the Central Election Committee was held in New Delhi on Friday. President of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee B B Bahl said the meeting was positive and Bansal was expected to be the party’s candidate from the city.

After the CEC meeting ended, Bansal’s supporters gathered at his residence, and celebrations were held with the news spreading that his candidature had been confirmed and an announcement was likely to be made. However, as it turned out, no formal announcement was made.

Speculation is rife that a section of the Congress leaders raked up the rail bribery scam in which Bansal’s nephew  was caught by the CBI while accepting a bribe of Rs 90 lakh. Bansal, who was then the Railways Minister, was forced to resign. Subsequently, Bansal was made the prosecution witness.

The issue seems to have come back to haunt him. “Opposition has been expressed by a section of the Congress from other states who have raised questions about Bansal being given the ticket. It is expected that ticket from Chandigarh would be announced in the next two-three days, though Bansal continues to be the front-runner,” said a Congress leader.

Revolt had been witnessed in the Chandigarh party unit a few weeks back as well. A section of members of the local unit opposed Bansal’s candidature. Following this, applications were invited and a total of six aspirants applied. However, at the meeting of the election committee in Chandigarh, all nine members of the committee approved Bansal’s name. Subsequently, the detractors gave their support to Bansal.

At the meeting of the screening committee held in Delhi on Sunday, Bansal’s name was approved as his was the only name from the city for consideration, even though questions about the rail bribery scam were raised in the meeting, with the members of the committee wanting to know the impact it could have in the city.

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