ACTOR, MP and BJP candidate Kirron Kher clinched the Chandigarh seat and headed for her second consecutive term Thursday as she defeated Congress war horse Pawan Kumar Bansal by a margin of 46,970 votes. AAP candidate, former Union Minister Harmohan Dhawan, who scored only 13,781 votes, was nowhere to be seen though his son came to the counting centre left disappointed in the early rounds of counting.
There was a neck and neck fight between Bansal and Kher when counting began at the Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology (CCET), Sector 26. Candidates’ counting agents were sent inside the counting room amid tight security. A total of 4,56,207 votes were polled of 6,46,084 voters. While Kirron Kher secured 2,311,88 votes, Bansal got 1,84,218 votes.
There were 15 rounds of counting and 42 tables. Counting began around 8.20 am and after the margin of votes between Bansal and Kher crossed 11,000, the sitting MP became sure of her win as the booths covered in the initial rounds were mostly colony and village areas, which are considered a Congress votebank.
Kher led from the word go, leading by 1,514 votes in the first round. She kept leading till the fourth round, but as the margin remained very close in the initial rounds, Congress workers remained hopeful of a win. In the fifth round, Bansal started leading with 472 votes. From the sixth round however, Kher began to lead again and the margin kept increasing then on.
Quietly confident of a win, Bansal, who reached the centre with his wife in the second round, looked visibly upset and tense after the fourth round. Earlier in the day, when Kher crossed a margin of 5,000 votes, Congress workers started alleging discrepancies in the counting process. As Congress workers got agitated, security outside Kher’s residence in Sector 7 was beefed up.
Kher loyalists, councillors Heera Negi, Mahesh Inder Singh Sidhu, Hardeep, Kanwar Rana, Davesh Moudgil looked happy as counting progressed. Bansal was nowhere to be seen at the counting centre later. There were only BJP supporters at the centre and in the evening, crackers were burst outside the venue. BJP supporters started gathering outside Kher’s residence shouting slogans of ‘Bharat mata ki jai’, ‘Sahdev Salaria zindabad’. However, no prominent local leader was seen at her residence.
At around 7 pm, Kher visited the counting centre along with her sister. Election in-charge Captain Abhimanyu, former MP Satya Pal Jain also accompanied her. BJP chief Sanjay Tandon was neither seen at the venue nor at Kher’s residence. It was said that Tandon was at the party office Kamlam in Sector 33.