It will be a three-corner contest during the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation elections with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) this time throwing its hat in the ring and pitching its candidates for the first time for the civic polls. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress have already been indulged in a poll tussle here for several years.
While BJP claims that it will win with a majority, the AAP expressed confidence in a clean sweep as the “people wanted a change from political parties who did nothing for many years”. Congress, on the other hand, is hopeful too and said that the party “will nominate the Mayor” this time.
As the three key parties keep their fingers crossed after the end of the last day of campaigning (Tuesday), political experts said that Chandigarh this time would be facing a never-before-seen poll contest with no clear winners that can be predicted.
Political analyst Prof Ashutosh Kumar while speaking to The Indian Express said that “the population of Chandigarh is homogeneous” “It is a city of shopkeepers, retired bureaucrats, who had very defined voting patterns thus far and very little they had to choose from. This time, however, with the AAP in the mix, things will be different and the power equations may shift dramatically,” Kumar said.
AAP may spoil things for Congress
Many opponents have been terming AAP as the ‘team B’ of Congress with almost majority of the Congress leaders who did not get a ticket or couldn’t get along with the change in leadership joining the AAP. In that scenario, AAP candidates may just take the chunk of votes that were to go to the Congress considering the supporters. Even if the AAP candidates do so, it will be a good opening for the party that may try and establish its roots by next elections. The AAP has been called a second Congress since former Congress chief Pardeep Chhabra joined, when Congress leaders like Chander Mukhi Sharma had already joined the AAP.
Most members who continue to join the AAP have previously been associated with the Congress as well. If AAP manages to get some votes, those would be only the divided votes of the Congress. Initially, many RWAs wanted to join AAP and contest but after it became home to several Congress workers, it seems to have lost that sheen.
Two Cs of campaigning
These elections, there were two Cs that played a key role as issues – cleanliness and Covid. The fact that Chandigarh slipped in swacchta rankings to the 66th rank and the mountain of garbage at Dadu Majra were one of the key issues taken up. All the parties promised to remove the garbage, something that should have been done earlier too.
Another key poll issue was Covid. Opposition took up how the councillors weren’t there in times of need when people went through the worst times during the second wave in terms of need of beds and ventilator and in first wave when people required ration. On the concluding day of campaigning, Congress also asked as to why the Covid funds remained underutilised even when people were struggling.
The BJP candidates are still using “Modi wave” as a factor and seeking votes in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ravinder Pathania, a candidate who is contesting from ward 29 tells his ward residents that “people will vote for development which has taken place under Modi sarkar”. Many other candidates are seeking votes on how the PM has worked for the nation.
Only a few who are talking of their individual work and vision for the ward. To add to this, Congress is banking upon Chandigarh’s poor ranking in cleanliness that will garner votes for its candidates. Congress candidates and the campaigners have been going around in the wards speaking how ‘City Beautiful has been made City Dirtyful’.
Meanwhile, AAP, is playing on the factor that people want a change from BJP and Congress which will be the reason they get votes for.
Key contests, high stakes
Key contests would be witnessed in some of the wards. It will be Rawat vs Rawat it seems in ward 27 where Congress’ Gurbax Rawat will be facing BJP’s Ravinder Rawat. Gurbax will be contesting from the ward which is otherwise general. In ward 2, comprising posh sectors, AAP has fielded former deputy director of UT education department Sukhraj Sandhu. She will be facing the present councillor from BJP, Mahesh Inder Sidhu, and Congress leader HS Lucky. Similarly in ward 22, BJP’s stalwart Heera Negi will be facing the sister of Congress councillor Devinder Singh Babla, Balwinder Kaur. Balwinder is one of the richest candidates in the fray.
In ward 25, it will be Rana vs Rana as BJP’s Vijay Singh Rana will face Congress’ Mohan Singh Rana. Vijay is contesting from a high stake seat which is the area of BJP chief Arun Sood, from where he remained the candidate for the last ten years and won the polls. In ward 14, it will be yet another interesting election as Congress chief Subhash Chawla’s son Sumit Chawla will be contesting from there. He will be facing BJP’s Kuljeet Singh Sandhu And AAP’s Kuldeep Kukki.
Ward 12 will also be another high stake seat as the BJP has fielded Saurabh Joshi, its former councillor from the area, and Congress has fielded its leader Deipa Dubey.
Dubey and Joshi, both also lost the polls last time. Another interesting seat would be that of ward 10, where Congress leader of opposition Devinder Singh Babla’s wife Harpreet Babla has been fielded.