OF 13 Lok Sabha elections held in Chandigarh parliamentary constituency since 1967, the Union Territory has remained a stronghold of Congress which won seven Lok Sabha elections here while BJP won three. For three consecutive terms since 1999 to 2014, it was Pawan Bansal who held his ground as Member of Parliament in the City Beautiful until actor-turned-politician Kirron Kher of the BJP broke the jinx in 2014 securing the highest votes polled ever by a candidate in the city.
In 2014 polls, Kher won with 42.5 per cent votes after breaking Bansal’s three-term record of years 1999, 2004 and 2009 who had secured vote share of 47 per cent, 52.1 per cent and 46.9 per cent respectively. Though actor Gul Panag also contested the last polls from Aam Aadmi Party, she came third.
This time, the battleground yet again is likely to have Kirron Kher, a Bollywood face known to people, and Congress’s old war horse Pawan Bansal. Though Congress’s Navjot Kaur and Manish Tewari and BJP’s Sanjay Tandon are also in the fray. Kher and Bansal are said to be the frontrunners for the prestigious seat. Bansal first bagged the Chandigarh seat in 1991 with 35.9 per cent vote share, but in 1996 and 1998, BJP leader Satya Pal Jain won the seat securing a better vote share of 39 per cent and 42.4 per cent, respectively. Before this, the Congress had won the seat in 1971, 1980 and 1984 elections.
Though Chandigarh residents claim it is only the capability of a candidate to solve their problems that will be the sole criterion for selecting their MP. Last time it was the Modi wave that had swung the votes in the favour of Kher. This time, Kher is trying to garner votes both in the name of Modi — she wears a Namo again badge and has changed her twitter handle to Chiwkidar — and her work.
But Vinod Vashisht, president of Government Houses Residents’ Welfare Society, Sector 22 , Chandigarh, insists, “We just need a local resident who knows our problems of parking, cleanliness and other issues. If it is a candidate who has fought elections in the past, that will help residents to vote after looking at his previous track record. Chandigarh is a city of literate people who are wise enough to know who is the right choice for them.”
Federation of Sectors Welfare Association of Chandigarh Baljinder Singh Bittu said that Chandigarh’s condition, be it in cleanliness or roads, has deteriorated. “It isn’t the city which it was few years back. The so-called planned city of the country struggles to have proper power and water facility, which are the basic amenities,” he said.
Number of voters since 1967 in Chandigarh went up by 5.43 lakh
Since 1967, though Chandigarh has seen an addition of 5,43,387 voters. The voter turnout has gone up by a mere eight per cent until 2014 elections. The city, as per the 2011 census, had a total population of 10.55 lakh of which 55 per cent were males and 45 per cent females.
In 1967, there were 76,232 voters in Chandigarh while now, till January 2019, the voter count in the City Beautiful stands at 6,19,619.
In 2014 elections, the total number of voters was 6,15,214, of which 80.8 per cent were Hindus, 13.1 per cent Sikhs, Muslims were 4.9 per cent and others stood at 1.2 per cent.
The city hopes to have a better voter turnout this time with the Election Commission making efforts to get more and more people to vote with its ongoing awareness campaigns.