AT A time when every election in the country is being watched for what it holds for the big one in 2019, fear of cross-voting by the Bharatiya Janata Party councillors in the upcoming Mayor elections is giving party managers sleepless nights. A senior leader from Delhi is likely to visit Chandigarh by the middle of the month to take stock, local BJP sources told Chandigarh Newsline.
The Mayoral candidates by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress will be declared in the last week of December. The elections will be held in January first week. The post is reserved this time for Scheduled Castes. While Sheela Devi is the only SC councillor in the Congress and is almost certain to be fielded by her party, four councillors from the BJP are vying for the nomination — Satish Kainth, Bharat Kumar, Farmila and Rajesh Kalia.
Congress party’s Sheela Devi, who is clear of her official announcement as the candidate, said that the BJP’s groupism will help her. “BJP’s own factionalism may help me win. You can see what happened this year — BJP’s own councillors, because of the groupism didn’t let their own Mayor Davesh Moudgil work,” she said. Devi has remained the Deputy Mayor in the past.
As factionalism between councillors holding allegiance to city BJP chief Sanjay Tandon and those supporting Member of Parliament Kirron Kher has intensified after the firing incident in F Bar, in which a number of BJP members and supporters were involved, senior BJP leaders will be visiting Chandigarh next week for the Mayoral polls.
“The party can’t afford to lose this year. It won’t have a positive impact on the Lok Sabha polls. Once the results of other states are declared on December 11, the party high command has informed that some leaders will be visiting the city to hold meetings with us,” a senior BJP leader told Chandigarh Newsline.
National vice-president Prabhat Jha may visit Chandigarh and speak to each of the party’s councillors to ensure that the party councillors hold unity on the ground. Already after the firing incident, 11 councillors from Kher’s group have written to BJP president Amit Shah seeking removal of city BJP chief Sanjay Tandon.
Cross-voting is not new woe for the party. Last year, BJP councillor Heera Negi lost the seat of Finance and Contract Committee in the elections due to cross-voting by party councillors helping Congress councillor Devinder Singh Babla win. In 2015, despite the BJP having 14 elected councillors and Congress nine, Congress party’s candidate Poonam Sharma won the Mayoral polls.
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 Member of Parliament Kirron Kher who is the ex-officio member of the House. Four are Congress councillors, one councillor is Independent while one is from SAD, which is in alliance with the BJP, 20 councillors are from BJP.