The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faces big dilemma over the ticket distribution for the lone Lok Sabha seat of Chandigarh.
On the one hand, the local unit grapples with infighting with its top three leaders former MP Satya Pal Jain, city BJP chief Sanjay Tandon and former union minister Harmohan Dhawan trying to pull down each other to get the party ticket, on the other hand, the party faces dubious history of this Lok Sabha seat: those para-trooped by the BJP as well as the Congress, just ahead of elections, have not been accepted by the electorates of Chandigarh.
Party high command might have officially floated the name of Kirron Kher in one of the recent meetings to take workers' view on party candidate, but names of Amritsar MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, Kiran Bedi and even those of Kapil Dev and leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley are also the doing rounds in local party circles, the fact remains that those who have worked among the people have got their vote.
There are numerous examples in the city politics, Yagya Dutt Sharma, a Punjab politician who was fielded by the BJP against Jagannath Kaushal in the 1984 elections, could not even secure his security deposit.
Former national vice-president of the party and Delhi leader Kishan Lal Sharma, fielded by the party in 1999, denying ticket incumbent Jain, also got defeated at the hands of Pawan Kumar Bansal, former railway minister, who had lost two consecutive elections before securing victory in 1999 elections. This happened despite the fact that there was a wave in the favour of the then prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in that election.
After 1999 polls, Jain fielded in the years 2004 and 2009, lost to Bansal and the Congress vote share increased.
Not only in the BJP, but also in the Congress, Satpal Kapoor, a Patiala politician fielded by the Congress against Krishan Kant, a Bharatiya Lok Dal candidate also lost badly in 1977 elections.
Traditionally, Chandigarh has remained a Congress seat and its candidate has won seven times since the time first elections took place in the city in 1967.
"Party high command might be feeling that a leader from outside Chandigarh either with remote roots to the city or a leader who is influential enough to force all local leaders to toe the party line could help," a top party leader said, adding that celebrity status of candidate could counter the negative effects of being outsiders.
But local leaders also admit that any wrong decision by the party that too at a time when senior Congress leader Bansal faces the charges of corruption in railgate scam and there is dissent within the Congress, the BJP will have to take the decision very carefully.
BJP meet today
The BJP's election committee is likely to meet on Sunday to discuss party's candidate for general election scheduled to be held later this year. Party affairs incharge, Chandigarh, Aarti Mehra would be in city on Sunday.
"State executive committee will meet in the morning, while election committee meeting will take place in the evening," a party leader said.
As many as 19 local leaders have staked claim for party ticket for the lone seat of Chandigarh.