At a time of public feuding with the BJP over the F-Bar firing incident, four party councillors have indicated they are in the fray for the upcoming Mayoral polls, their rival camps underlining the tensions within. This time, the Mayoral seat is for a candidate from the reserved category.
Councillors Satish Kainth, Farmila, Rajesh Kalia and Bharat Kumar have already begun lobbying for the polls which are scheduled to be held in the first week of January. The term of Mayor Davesh Moudgil, who is aligned with Member of Parliament Kirron Kher and former Union Minister Satya Pal Jain, will end in December.
While councillors Rajesh Kalia and Bharat Kumar are from city BJP chief Sanjay Tandon’s camp, Farmila is from the Kher camp. A loyalist of the Tandon group, Kainth has of late been gravitating towards Kher, which some councillors say might be a clever strategy on his part.
Farmila, Rajesh Kalia and Bharat are first-timers while Kainth, who has an edge over other contenders for the polls, is taking a second shot at the post.
With polls nearing, Kainth says “he has no lobby”. “It is the party which will decide if I have to contest the polls. If the party gives me an opportunity, I will definitely contest the elections. I have always concentrated on public work and as you know I don’t believe in any lobbying,” Kainth told Chandigarh Newsline.
Kainth was elected on a Congress ticket as the councillor in 2011 and was the Deputy Mayor for two consecutive terms, 2012 and 2013. He then switched to the BJP in 2015. Kainth was jailed for three months in 2016 for allegedly grabbing land of a widow but the issue was later settled out of court. He claimed that he was a victim of political rivalry.
The firing incident at the birthday eve party of Kher’s aide Sahdev Salaria has intensified the factionalism between Member of Parliament Kirron Kher and city BJP chief Sanjay Tandon, which is likely to be felt in the mayoral polls. Farmila, the only woman contender, said that she has an edge over others because she is educated. “It doesn’t matter if I am a first-timer. The fact is that Chandigarh is a city of educated people and it requires an educated Mayor. I am a graduate and a woman too. I would be focusing on women safety issues as well. You know that when it comes to corruption, a woman is far cleaner than a man,” she said.
Rajesh Kalia, another contender, stated that he has been the only voice of safaikaramcharis in the city. “I have been associated with the RSS since 1984 and apart from that I feel the city needs someone who has been associated with the roots. I have been the chairman of Balmiki Community in the city,” Kalia said.
Bharat Kumar said that though he does not want to compare himself with his fellow councillors, he could say that he has “a clean image”.
“If the party gives me an opportunity, I will surely give my 100 per cent in the work for the city,” he said.