The AAP on Sunday declared Harmohan Dhawan, 78, as its official candidate for Lok Sabha elections from Chandigarh. Dhawan had recently joined the AAP after quitting the BJP. It will be after a hiatus of 10 years that Dhawan will be contesting the polls from Chandigarh. In 2009, he had contested the LS polls from Chandigarh but came third.
The announcement was made by AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal at a rally at Barnala. Dhawan too was present at the rally when his name was announced. With this, there will be a triangular contest in the LS polls this time in Chandigarh.
Dhawan was an MP from Chandigarh in 1989 from the Janata Party and then served as Civil Aviation Minister in the Chandra Shekhar Cabinet. He has remained associated with various political parties such as Samajwadi Party, Indian National Lok Dal, Chandigarh Vikas Manch, Bahujan Samajwadi Party, Congress and was with the BJP for around eight years.
Talking to Chandigarh Newsline, Dhawan said, “Chandigarh wants a change. I am sure I will win with a good margin. Residents of the city know who has fulfilled promises and who has not. I have been with BJP and I know that the party has just befooled people.”
Reacting to the BJP allegation that Dhawan is power hungry and wanted a ticket, he said, “Okay, I asked for ticket in 2014. But didn’t I support Kirron Kher in the elections and she won? I just want to serve people of my city. I have been serving my people all these years.” Dhawan had been waiting for his official announcement since November 18, when he joined the party. He had even kept his campaigning on hold.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the AAP had fielded Gul Panag and she had secured 1.08 lakh votes. On Dhawan’s candidature, Chandigarh AAP convener Prem Garg told Newsline, “We had recommended only Dhawan’s name from here. In fact, we got a survey done by our volunteers and in the colonies, people are really fond of Dhawan. I am sure he will live up to the expectations of people.”
After Dhawan was declared the official candidate, Dhawan was welcomed by party workers in Chandigarh late in the evening. Former union minister and Congress leader Pawan Bansal said, “It is part of a democratic process.”
If Dhawan’s candidature will pose a threat to the Congress, Bansal said, “This time, Congress will certainly win.”
City BJP chief Sanjay Tandon said, “My good wishes are with him.”
Dhawan said that he had been constituting booth-level committees ever since he had joined the party. “These one-and-a-half months I have just been working at the booth level and constituting committees so that workers start campaigning,” Dhawan said.
A team will be working with Dhawan and preparing the manifesto first. Sources said that Dhawan is also making a social media team to connect with people online. The team will be uploading the leader’s meetings and interactions with people.