Mayoral polls: Congress fields Babla for mayor’s post, BJP yet to decide on name

Picks up Sheela Phool Singh, Ravinder Kaur Gujral for posts of senior deputy mayor, deputy mayor, respectively

Written by Hina Rohtaki | Chandigarh | Updated: January 3, 2018 8:33 am
Congress candidates Davinder Babla, Sheela Phool Singh (on Babla’s right side) and Ravinder Kaur Gujral (in red and black) file nomination at MC office in Chandigarh on Tuesday. Jaipal Singh

THE CONGRESS fielded councillor Devinder Singh Babla for the post of mayor on Tuesday. The party also picked up councillors Sheela Phool Singh and Ravinder Kaur Gujral for the posts of senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor, respectively.

All the three candidates filed their nominations for mayoral polls at the Municipal Corporation office. The polls will be held on January 9.
However, the BJP failed to announce its candidates and said that it would take a call on Wednesday, which is the last day for filing nominations.

The city unit of the BJP has been facing factionalism despite having majority; it has 20 councillors in the 36-member MC House. However, it has been unable to reach a consensus on the candidate for the post of mayor.

While city BJP chief Sanjay Tandon’s camp has been pushing hard to field councillor Arun Sood, former MP Satya Pal Jain and his camp has been trying to get a ticket for Davesh Moudgil. As per sources, Moudgil has the support of MP Kirron Kher as well. Fearing cross-voting, if no consensus is reached on either of the two names, the BJP is expected to pick up a new face for the mayor’s post.

Sources said that Tandon was trying that in case Sood was not picked, his another close aide Shakti Devshali be fielded in order to stop Moudgil.

City BJP chief Sanjay Tandon said that their incharge Prabhat Jha would be reaching Chandigarh late in the night. That is why the name of the candidate would be announced on Wednesday.

Factionalism within the BJP is proving to be an advantage for the Congress. Congress councillor Devinder Singh Babla had won elections of Finance and Contract Committee held early this year because of cross-voting within the BJP. As a result, BJP councillor Heera Negi lost.

Even as the Congress has just four councillors in the House, Babla is hopeful of his victory. In the 36-member House, the BJP has 20 and one is from SAD and the other an independent member. MP Kher is the ex-officio member of the House. There are nine nominated councillors who do not have voting rights.

United show

A day after Congress members met their leader Pawan Kumar Bansal and held discussions on mayoral polls in the absence of city Congress chief Pardeep Chhabra, the party on Tuesday put up a united show with all of them coming with their candidates to file nominations. Chhabra accompanied Bansal and all other senior party leaders during the filing of nomination papers.

The BJP’s infighting in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation has given Congress councillor Devinder Singh Babla, the mayoral candidate, hope to win the upcoming. Elections. This despite a strength of just four Congress councillors in the general house of the municipal corporation.

Babla said that there have been instances when despite a single member representing a political party in the house, it has won the mayor elections with majority.

“Nothing is certain in municipal corporation. Once our party candidate was the only one representing Congress and still won the mayoral elections,” he said.

Despite BJP’s majority in the general house this time, Babla won the elections of Finance and Contract Committee beating BJP’s Heera Negi early this year.

There was cross voting in the BJP due to alleged infighting in the party.

The Congress councillor added that if he wins the election, he will focus on just development works in the city.

“When BJP councillor Asha Jaswal was the mayor, agenda works of only Jaswal and Arun Sood’s ward were passed, while others suffered. This was despite BJP having its majority of councillors. They have a feeling of revenge within themselves, while I have never opposed the opposition if any work is in the interest of city residents,” Babla said.

The BJP has allegedly been facing the issue of infighting within the party since years. There are four groups within the party, led by BJP chief Sanjay Tandon, former MP Satya Pal Jain, Harmohan Dhawan and MP Kirron Kher.
However, sources said that Kher has extended her support to Jain’s choice of Davesh Moudgil, fielded for the mayor’s post, but Tandon’s group has been opposing him.

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