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Monday, January 18, 2021

BJP declares Chandigarh candidate for mayor’s post, triggers revolt

Upset with the decision, BJP councillor Chanderwati Shukla filed nomination independently for the coveted post while another party councillor Bharat Kumar announced resignation from the party.

Written by Hina Rohtaki | Chandigarh | January 5, 2021 8:16:41 am
Ravikant Sharma trying to stop Pappu Shukla from filing nomination for Mayoral election at the MC office in Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Monday. (Express Photo by Kamleshwar Singh)

Revolt erupted in the city unit of BJP minutes after party councillor Ravi Kant Sharma was declared as party’s official candidate for the post of mayor. Upset with the decision, BJP councillor Chanderwati Shukla filed nomination independently for the coveted post while another party councillor Bharat Kumar announced resignation from the party.

Interestingly, this opposition within the party came to the fore when the city has to go to civic polls after a few months. Mayor elections are scheduled to take place on January 8.

Sharma, the outgoing Senior Deputy Mayor, is close to former city BJP chief Sanjay Tandon and has been a close aide of the current city party chief Arun Sood. While the BJP chose Mahesh Inder Sidhu for the post of Senior Deputy Mayor, it fielded Farmila for the post of Deputy Mayor.

In order to avoid any revolt within the party coming out in the open, the BJP announced that it will declare its official candidates only a few minutes before nominations have to be filed.

The moment, Sharma’s name was announced, Shukla and her husband Gopal alias Pappu Shukla came out in opposition. Attempts were made to pacify them but Shukla did not listen and headed to the Municipal Corporation office to file nomination for the mayor’s post as an Independent candidate.

Shukla’s proposers in the nomination form were Congress candidate Devinder Singh Babla and Satish Kainth. Not only Shukla but BJP councillor Bharat Kumar was also upset with the party’s decision. He resigned from the party.

‘Am I meant only to gather crowd for their rallied’

While speaking to The Indian Express, BJP councillor Chanderwati Shukla said, “This is injustice. When it comes to gathering crowd for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally or other BJP rallies, then it is me who has to do everything for them. Am I just meant to gather people from
UP and Bihar for their rallies? I have contributed so much for the party.”

She added, “Moreover, I was just asking them to consider me for the post of senior deputy mayor or deputy mayor. They have selected that person for mayor who has already been the senior deputy mayor. This is not just. Everyone should be given a chance.”

While speaking about the candidates, she said, “Do they field those candidates who always oppose and insult them? Did you know what outgoing Mayor Raj Bala Malik had said in the House about city BJP chief. She said he keeps barking all the time, and she was made the mayor. Farmila had supported BJP rebel candidate Satish Kainth and even crossed her vote. Look, she has been rewarded for it and fielded for the post of deputy mayor. Because we have been disciplined all the time, that is the reward party wants to give us. Is this justice?”

Asked what if the party expels her the way it did Kainth when he contested independently, Shukla said, “Let them expel me. It doesn’t matter to me. The one who has to work for people has to work irrespective of whichever party he or she is in. Moreover, I know I will win because I have the support of the councillors.”

Shukla said that come what may, she won’t take the nomination back.

Even while Shukla was filing the nomination, fellow councillors Asha Jaswal and Sunita Dhawan rushed to pacify her not to take this step.

However, Shukla did not listen to them and went ahead. Last year too, Shukla was upset and she had to be pacified and stopped from filing nomination independently.

This is not the first time that revolt in BJP has come to the fore after mayor candidate has been announced. In 2019 when the party declared Rajesh Kalia as mayoral candidate, BJP’s Satish Kainth was upset with the party’s decision and filed nomination independently.

Reacting to Shukla’s nomination, the BJP’s official candidate said, “It just happened in the heat of the moment. She will take the nomination back. Differences do happen in a family and we are all a family.”

Sood: We’ll pacify them, they’re just angry

While speaking to The Indian Express, city BJP chief Arun Sood said that Shukla was one of the frontrunners. “It is just that she got angry and filed nomination. It is not that she was not being considered. She was deserving and the party was considering her to be front-runner. I have just come from their residence and Gopal Shukla has said that he will take the nomination back. Things happened in the heat of the moment.”

Sood said that their nominations, including that of Congress mayoral candidate Devinder Singh Babla, are invalid because mayoral candidates can’t be proposers of each other the way Babla and Shukla have been.

About Bharat Kumar’s resignation, Sood said, “Bharat just announced that he will resign. I have neither received his resignation nor will I accept it. Just that he is slightly upset. I have been to his house and he has been pacified.”

Congress candidate says will support Shukla if required

Making most of the BJP’s factionalism, Congress councillor and official candidate for the post of mayor, Devinder Singh Babla said that “people of Purvanchal have always been ignored by the BJP and, if required, he can also step down to support them”.

“People of Purvanchal, Gharwal hold an important place in the city. BJP has never done anything for them. If you see, they have never been given any important position in any of the three posts. For people of Purvanchal, I may step down from this candidature to support them,” Babla said.

Just few minutes before the BJP’s nominations, the Congress’s Babla filed nomination for mayor’s post, Congress councillor Ravinder Gujral
for the post of senior deputy mayor and Congress councillor Satish kainth for the post of deputy mayor.

Know BJP’s official candidate

‘NO TAXES IF I AM ELECTED’

Originally from Una district of Himachal Pradesh, BJP’s official candidate Ravi Kant Sharma, 53, is a councillor from sectors 16, 17 and 22.

Sharma who was elected the councillor first time in 2016 has always supported Sood and Tandon from the very beginning. He has always kept low-profile and never got into nasty fights in the General House. He is a resident of Sector 37.

Sharma said that if elected, he will not impose a single tax on city residents.

“I will make sure that all pending works are completed on priority. No tax will be imposed. Also, the issue of safai karamchari unions would be solved on priority,” he said.

Sharma joined the BJP in 1984. He has done MBA. His wife is a homemaker and he has two sons — while one is pursuing degree from Australia, the other is doing his graduation from DAV College in Sector 10, Chandigarh.

HOW MANY VOTES A MAYOR REQUIRES

A mayor holds a one-year term in Chandigarh. A mayor is elected from amongst the elected representatives in the General House. To become a mayor, a candidate needs 14 votes out of 27. The nine nominated councillors do not have voting rights. One vote is that of MP who is the ex-officio member of the House.

Of the 26 elected councillors, the BJP has a majority in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation with 20 councillors. There are five Congress councillors while one is from the SAD, which is in an alliance with the BJP.

This time, the mayor’s seat is reserved for the general category.

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