The political rivalry between two leaders from the city a sitting MP and a former MP took a new turn with the two ending up on opposite sides,defending the candidates put up by their respective parties for the elections to the post of President of India.
As Opposition-backed presidential candidate P A Sangma sought cancellation of UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjees candidature,he was represented by former BJP MP from the city Satya Pal Jain who is the national in-charge of the Legal and Legislative Cell of the party. Defending Mukherjee was Union Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal,who is the local MP from Chandigarh. The over two-decade old rivalry between the two got revived at an unexpected platform today.
In a complaint to Rajya Sabha General Secretary V K Agnihotri,who is the returning officer for the Presidential polls,Jain who is Sangmas lawyer demanded that Mukherjees candidature be cancelled on grounds that he was holding an office of profit,being the chairman of Indian Statistical Institute (ISI),Kolkata. Bansal,who is the election agent of Mukherjee,defended his candidature stating that he had already resigned from the post before filing his nomination.
The rivalry between Bansal and Jain dates back more than two decades when they first faced each other in the Lok Sabha elections in 1991. Bansal won the election by a margin of more than 15,000 votes.
The two have contested each other in five elections. Of these,Bansal was victorious in three and Jain in two.
During the elections in 1996,Jain defeated Bansal. He repeated the feat in 1998. However,in the Lok Sabha elections in 2004 and 2009 when the two were pitted against each other,it was Bansal who won.
Both Bansal and Jain are advocates by profession and are alumni of Panjab University (PU) and members of the PU Senate. The two have been known to share less than cordial relations.
A senior leader in the city said that the two have been bitter rivals for decades and are known to openly make statements against each other.
At times openly while at others in a covert manner,the two have never refrained from speaking against each other.
Bansal was known to have bitter relations with former Punjab Governor and UT Administrator Gen (Retd) S F Rodrigues. He had then accused Gen Rodrigues of contesting the Lok Sabha elections in 2009 by proxy.
Hinting at support being provided to the Bharatiya Janata Party,whose candidate was Jain,Bansal had accused Rodrigues of trying to defeat him.
Jain had vehemently denied these allegations and alleged that despite being the local MP,Bansal had not been able to do much for the city and all projects had been stalled.
Asked about the current situation wherein he finds himself pitted against Bansal once again,Jain said that it is quite a coincidence that the two of them are facing each other again.
We have contested five elections against each other. This time we are defending the candidates of our respective parties in the presidential elections. It should be a matter of honour for the city that local leaders are involved in important events at the Centre, remarked Jain.
Bansal opined,It is a good coincidence. He (Jain) is doing a job assigned to him by his party since he is the head of the Legal Cell of the BJP. And I am doing a task assigned to me by my party.