The Pradesh Election Committee approved by Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi for the Municipal Corporation elections is dominated by people from the camp of former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal. According to a letter written by incharge Asha Kumari to Congressmen, 11 names have been approved by Rahul for the Pradesh Election Committee. Apart from Bansal, among others on the election committee are Chandigarh Congress chief Pardeep Chhabra, former senior deputy mayor and vice-president of Chandigarh Congress Bhupinder Singh Badheri, executive member and former vice-president Pawan Sharma, general secretary of the Congress unit Vinod Sharma and executive member Hakam Sarhadi.
Other members include city president of the Mahila Congress, city chief organiser of the Sewa Dal, city Youth Congress president and city NSUI president .
Neither Congress leader Manish Tewari nor anybody from his camp has found a place on the election committee. Many public meetings under Tewari were being held last year wherein people were told by Tewari loyalists that the next MC elections would be held under the leadership of Tewari, and not Bansal.
Soon after the announcement to the Congress about the committee, Tewari’s loyalists, including principal Gurbachan Singh, Chandramukhi Sharma and others wrote a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. In the letter, they wrote, “We senior leaders of Chandigarh Congress strongly oppose the newly formed Pradesh Election Committee. This committee is totally one-sided and has not given proper representation to various factions of the party. The members of the committee are mere puppets in the hands of Pawan Bansal as everyone knows that final decision will be taken by members of Bansal’s family sitting on the lawn of Sector 28 kothi.”
These leaders also alleged that Bansal lost solely because of his ‘mama-bhanja’ image. “The combination of railgate, boothgate, lootgate will not only damage the prospects of the party in the coming MC elections but it will also have a demoralising effect on the Congress workers,” the letter stated.
During her inaugural meeting of the Congress workers on November 5, party incharge Asha Kumari had said Tewari had no role in the MC elections. “He is a leader of Punjab and has no role in Chandigarh. The leadership of Chandigarh Congress is headed by Pardeep Chabbra, who belongs to the city,” Kumari had stated that time.
Recently, chinks in the city party unit came to the fore after loyalists of Tewari refused to fill the loyalty affidavit while applying for tickets in the MC elections. Kumari, however, had ruled out any division in the party.
The MC elections are scheduled to be held on December 18. Nominations will be filed from November 22 to November 29.