Railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal’s unceremonious exit from the Union cabinet is not merely the biggest blow to his three-decade-long political career, but it has also put him on a sticky wicket in his home constituency, Chandigarh.
Now that the cash-for-job taint his nephew Vijay Singla attached to the name of the three time MP from Chandigarh, a stigma that seems likely to stay, the talk about who will contest from Chandigarh in 2014 Lok Sabha polls has already begun.
The frontrunners are Union information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari and Congress MP Ambika Soni. Former union minister Venod Sharma and Anandpur Sahib MP Ravneet Singh Bittu are the other Congress leaders who could be eyeing the seat in the absence of any other influential leader from the city, Congress sources said.
Bansal has been the Congress candidate from Chandigarh since 1991, when he first got elected to Lok Sabha. At present, there is no second-rung local leader who could fill the vacuum in case the party refuses candidature to him in view of the huge embarrassment caused by the alleged bribery scandal.
In 1999 too, Bansal, having lost two elections in 1996 and 1998, was on the verge of losing the ticket. Former union minister Venod Sharma had emerged as a strong contender at that time, but he lost out after his son Manu Sharma got involved in the Jessica Lal murder case.
Congress had fielded Bansal, ignoring a resolution not to field candidates who had lost the previous two polls.