The AAP surge in Delhi and renewed emphasis of the Congress on integrity and probity in public life seem to have given hope to many Congressmen in Chandigarh who sense an opportunity to scuttle the chances of MP Pawan Kumar Bansal, who had to resign as
Railway Minister in the wake of an alleged scam involving his aides and a relative.
At a recent meeting of Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee (CTCC), a district party president is learnt to have demanded any candidate “other than Bansal” claiming that the MP could not retain the seat. While the AAP is yet to make its presence felt in Chandigarh, Congressmen are not sure about public mood.
Bansal still enjoys considerable political clout but there are signs of a rebellion with five Congressmen seeking the Chandigarh ticket, something that had not happened in a long time.
Within days of the CTCC communicating the name of Bansal to the high command, voices of dissent emerged with several Congressmen sensing he had possibly fallen out of favour with the party top brass after the rail scam in which his nephew was caught taking bribe to allegedly fix top jobs.
“We first recommended Bansal unanimously. Everybody — including all frontal organisations — signed. Later, many people started saying they wanted to apply. The high command extended the date, we sought applications and following scrutiny, six have been referred,” CTCC president B B Bahl said.
Asked about the chances of Bansal in the aftermath of the bribery scam, he said, “The works done by him as an MP and railway minister need to be appreciated. A CBI inquiry is on and he has not been proven guilty.”
Leading the rebel pack is district Congress president and former deputy mayor H S Lucky. A Bansal loyalist till now, Lucky recently surprised many by not just opposing his candidature but also applying for the ticket. Sources said he came out all guns blazing against Bansal during a recent visit of Chandigarh unit incharge Shakeel Ahmed.
“Rahul ji has said the party is opening its doors and that we want younger people. I have nothing against Bansal ji. But the need of the hour is that young people contest and they should be given a chance,” Lucky said.
Asked if the emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) would impact the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat, Lucky said, “Chandigarh has been a Congress stronghold. In the present scenario, however, youngsters stand of a firmer wicket.”