IT IS BJP vs BJP in the election for the mayor’s post this time. The BJP leadership on Wednesday chose leader Satya Pal Jain’s close aide Davesh Moudgil as the mayoral candidate upsetting Chandigarh BJP president Sanjay Tandon’s camp which is backing Councillor Arun Sood for the post.
Cracks in the party surfaced when despite BJP leader Prabhat Jha announcing Moudgil as the party’s official mayoral candidate, outgoing mayor Asha Jaswal, who is close to Tandon, came forward to contest independently. While Moudgil filed his nomination at the MC office here on Wednesday, Jaswal, too, filed her nomination for the post of mayor as an Independent candidate. Similarly, for the post of senior deputy mayor, for which BJP had named Gurpreet Dhillon as the official candidate, upset by the decision, Councillor Ravi Kant Sharma, who has been eyeing this post, filed her nomination independently. For the post of deputy mayor, BJP Councillor Vinod Aggarwal has been fielded.
Incidentally, this entire scenario prevails despite the BJP having a majority with 20 councillors in the House. Reacting to the issue, BJP chief Sanjay Tandon said, “It is highly unfortunate that Jaswal had to take the extreme step as she is a highly cultured and disciplined person. I feel this reaction of hers was off the cuff. I hope good circumstances prevail and she withdraws her nomination.”
It was a daylong drama at the UT guest house where Chandigarh in-charge Prabhat Jha was attending a meeting of all the city BJP leaders and councillors. The conflicts within these two factions were so deep that Moudgil was declared the candidate at 4 pm and to file his nomination, he reached just half an hour before the deadline for the last day of nominations was to end.
Sources said the moment Jha announced Moudgil as the candidate, Tandon walked out. However, Tandon told Chandigarh Newsline that he left the meeting because his wife wasn’t well and he got a call from his family to take her to the doctor immediately.
Councillors, owing allegiance to Tandon, said they had not expected Moudgil’s name for the post of mayor. “He has remained undisciplined throughout. Even while holding an inaugural event, he did not invite the outgoing mayor (Jaswal). So, how could he be the choice,” said a councillor on condition of anonymity. On Jaswal’s filing of nomination, BJP Councillor Davesh Moudgil said the party was supreme. “Party ka decision hai ye….kuch soch vichar ke hi kiya hai decision.”
Jaswal filed the nomination 40 minutes ahead of Moudgil. She told mediapersons that the decision had to be a collective one after taking all the councillors’ mind but that wasn’t done. “How can a person who is not disciplined can be the mayoral candidate. Moudgil ne hamesha indiscipline dikhaya hai…. kabhi party president ke function mein bhi nahi aata… sabki raaye leke hi ye decision dena tha to kyun wo thopa ja raha hai… especially when 14 councillors wanted another candidate and not Moudgil, how come this decision was taken,” she said.
The election is scheduled to be held on January 9. Congress has already declared Devinder Singh Babla as its candidate for the post of mayor. And, to further queer the BJP pitch, SAD candidate Hardeep Singh said he would not support BJP as one of the three posts were not given to SAD.