In another indication of the widening rift in the Chandigarh unit of the Congress, B B Bahl, a former president of the wing, is upset over not being consulted about the candidates to be fielded for the upcoming mayoral elections.
Bahl, who led the party in the city for around 15 years, alleged that despite his being a senior leader, former MP Pawan Kumar Bansal was “not bothered” about consulting him on such a vital issue.
Bahl said, “Nobody has asked me about the Mayoral candidate. Pawan Bansal has been dictating terms to everybody in the Congress here. He thinks of himself as the ‘proprietor’ of the Congress party. I was born into a Congress family and I have been managing affairs when Bansal didn’t even know the meaning of Congress.”
He added, “I know that nobody else in the Chandigarh Congress party would actually be asked about his choice for Mayoral candidate in the city because the name will be according to the whims of Bansal.”
When asked about the issue, Pawan Kumar Bansal said, “I don’t wish to say anything on what anybody else says.”
The Congress will announce its candidate by the month-end. Sources said councillor Mukesh Bassi was the frontrunner for the candidacy. The Mayoral elections are slated for January 8. This time, the BJP is making major efforts to get a Mayor from their party as they have been losing the post to the Congress for several years now.
Bahl has been at loggerheads with Bansal and incumbent city Congress president Pardeep Chhabra since the latter replaced him. The rift between them has widened to such an extent that they organise separate functions to mark different occasions. A few days ago, the birthday of Congress president Sonia Gandhi was also celebrated at different venues by Bahl and Chhabra, a close aide of Bansal.
A week ago, Bahl had invited former union minister Manish Tewari to address a public meeting in Maloya where Bansal and his supporters, including Chhabra, were conspicuous by their absence. After Bansal lost the Lok Sabha polls last year, Manish Tewari has been taking a keen interest in city politics. Bahl’s men also claimed that the next municipal corporation elections would be fought under the leadership of Tewari.