Rejecting the three local contenders - two former MPs and the city unit chief - the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday declared 58-year-old actor Kirron Kher, the quintessential Bollywood mummy, as its candidate from Chandigarh. A former city resident, Punjab native Kher, whose husband Anupam Kher is also an actor, faces sitting Congress MP Pawan Kumar Bansal, and actor Gul Panag, who is the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) nominee.
Kher was picked ahead of Chandigarh BJP unit chief Sanjay Tandon, senior leader Satyapal Jain; and veteran Harmohan Dhawan. Kher's candidature - a minor surprise - is being seen as fallout of infighting among the three leaders, who were regularly visiting Delhi to lobby for the ticket. While the first two welcomed her candidature, saying that defeating the Congress was the main goal, Dhawan's supporters mistakenly sent out messages that he had got the ticket and even celebrated for while.
Dhawan's party-hopping skills are well known. He won the seat in 1989 as a nominee of Janata Dal and remained civil aviation minister. In 2009, he contested on a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ticket before returning to the saffron fold.
Tandon, who was appointed city BJP president in 2010, was hopeful of a political promotion. Jain is the chairman of the national legal working group of the BJP and has remained MP twice, but lost last time to Bansal by a significant margin.
With Kher in, the glamour factor has gone up as she and AAP's Gul would have a tough fight against four-time Lok Sabha member Bansal, who had to resign as railway minister last year after his nephew was held in a bribery case. The BSP candidate is another woman, councillor Jannat Jahan.
It is significant to recall here that Kher had said in 2010, when she had come for a BJP meeting, that she was "not cut out for electoral politics".
BJP, Kirron Kher, Chandigarh candidate, Lok Sabha polls, Gul Panag, Pawan Bansal