After BJP's Kirron Kher pulled off a record margin victory in the Chandigarh Lok Sabha polls last year, the city's BJP unit has been mired in infighting and lack of cohesion. That the bad blood runs deep among its front-ranking leaders was amply evident in the recent Mayoral polls in which the saffron party suffered the humiliation of losing the mayor's post to the opposition Congress despite having more elected councilors in the MC House. Excerpts:
What led to the BJP’s defeat in the mayoral polls even as numbers were on your side?
This is a mystery, which the party is pondering upon. We had the numbers but still lost and this has got us to introspect. However, quite a few of the nominated councillors voted for us. Politics is a dirty game.
There is a lot of infighting within the party and a blame game seems be on. Will you do something?
I never get into local politics and believe in giving a long rope to people. I am here to represent city in Parliament and to work for people. The aspirations of all our local leaders should be taken into account and their hopes are important. A party’s success lies in collective effort.
Heera Negi, the mayoral candidate, was said to be handpicked by you, even though the majority of party members did not support her candidature?
She was not my candidate. A secret ballot of BJP councillors was held to elect the mayoral candidate in the presence of party’s organisational secretary Ajay Jamwal. The party president or others might have been slanted towards a particular candidate and thus a secret ballot was held. Following this, the BJP sangathan (high command) took the final decision.
You are being blamed for the defeat in the polls and not giving enough time for campaigning?
Nobody is blaming me. What would I have done by being around in the city? The party president and the prabhari (city affairs in-charge) should have been there. Nobody is questioning their absence even when the nominations were being filed.
The differences between you and city party chief Sanjay Tandon are being talked about. Do you both not get along?
Did I say so? Have you ever heard anything against Sanjay Tandon or anyone from me? I have never said anything against any sangathan member. The party’s internal matters should not be taken up publicly and I do not like commenting on party members in the media. I don’t plant stories against any sangathan member.