A day after he lost the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat to BJP’s Kirron Kher, Congress stalwart Pawan Bansal has called it quits to electoral politics. Conceding that he had failed to get the city’s key demands fulfilled and that the railgate scam had tarnished his image, four-time ex-MP Bansal, 65, however, refused to attribute his defeat to the Modi wave. “I am not quitting politics but will not contest again,” he told principal reporter Monica Sharma in a free-wheeling interview. Excerpts:
Q: What are your plans?
This would have been my last election, even if I had won. I am 65, and will be 70 by the next elections. I have contested at least seven times and now want to call it quits.
Do you the think Railgate derailed you?
I was not involved and have been the target of a sustained campaign. If I am implicated, I am ready to be stoned to death. The scam was raked up for a year by a section of the media and my political opponents and must have affected the minds of people. The CBI gave me a clean chit, yet I was doubted. I have been defamed beyond measure. I still thought people had faith in me.
How do you view the results?
People have told me ‘It is enough for you and I accept that’. I happened to be in politics, but was never powerhungry. I have made a difference and did my best in terms of getting funds, besides improving infrastructure.
Did infighting play a role?
Infighting had an insignificant effect. There are leaders who must have worked against me even when I won, so it does not matter.
What were the local factors, other than the Railgate, which led to the defeat?
Demands such as amendments in building bylaws could not be met. Industrialists and traders were unhappy due to fines imposed at ` 500 per sq feet per month on plots. The defective survey of colonies in 2006 remained unresolved. I could not even get the regularisation of employees done.
Did the Modi wave contribute to your defeat?
I don’t see any Narendra Modi wave. Kirron Kher has got just 42% vote share and if there had been any such wave, she should have got 90%. More than a lakh people voted for the AAP.
Did Gul Panag eat into your vote share?
There is no such thing as my vote. A new political party emerged and people chose it over me. My assessment before the election was that if AAP polled around 50,000 votes; I will win and if it won 1 lakh votes, I will lose.