For Congress, it’s a battle for survival | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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For Congress, it’s a battle for survival

The Congress party, which has been sending Pawan Kumar Bansal to Lok Sabha from the city seat for the past 15 years, is facing a battle of survival in the upcoming elections. The party not only faces challenge of overcoming antiincumbency.

chandigarh Updated: Apr 02, 2014 10:19 IST
Surender Sharma

The Congress party, which has been sending Pawan Kumar Bansal to Lok Sabha from the city seat for the past 15 years, is facing a battle of survival in the upcoming elections. The party not only faces challenge of overcoming antiincumbency, but also the anticorruption wave in the country with the emergence of a new player, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).


To make things worse for city unit, Bansal also faces ‘taint’ in the Railgate scam, in which his nephew Vijay Singla was caught taking a bribe of 90 lakh from a senior railway official. Bansal had to resign from the ministry, following the episode.

Therefore, the elections are being seen as equally important for the party as well as its MP.

BANSAL THE LONE FACE
Pawan Bansal has been the lone face dominating Congress politics here for the past two decades. No other Congress leader in the city could match the stature of Bansal all these years. Considered a ‘shrewd’ politician, Bansal has not allowed the growth of the second-rung leadership all this while, diminishing chances of challenge from within the party.

However, due to the Railgate scam, and the style of functioning of the octogenarian, Congress city chief BB Bahl and Bansal are learnt to have lost grip on the party, and are believed to not have made much success in rejuvenating the party cadre.

Many leaders came out in open opposing Bansal’s candidature for the seat when the party was to choose its candidate. Although, the party is trying to put up a united face after Bansal’s candidature was announced, many leaders are still being seen with a needle of suspicion.

ELECTORAL SETBACKS
Although the par ty has retained its Lok Sabha seat over the years, it has also faced setbacks. The party had no face in the municipal corporation (MC) elections in 2011, lost its grip in rural areas - though, gained in the city in the 2009 general elections - but lost it again in colonies and villages.

The most recent jolt for the party was Congress losing the posts of deputy mayor and senior deputy mayor to Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), despite Congress being in majority.

TO SELL DEVELOPMENT
Against all odds, the party is hoping to secure votes on the ‘development plank’, which includes giving 12 hour water supply to all, development of parks and green patches, infrastructure development in colonies, villages and the city, introduction of a dozen trains by Bansal, and track record of MC in 'quality sanitation'.