In what can be termed a generational shift, Congress councillor Pardeep Chhabra, 53, was appointed the 10th Chandigarh Congress president on Friday.
The change comes after over 14 years during which BB Bahl, 82, remained the president of Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee (CTCC). The party’s local unit had proposed four names — former mayor and Congress spokesperson Pardeep Chhabra, former mayor Ravinder Pal Singh Pali, district president (urban-1) Harmohinder Singh Lucky and current CTCC vice-president Pawan Sharma for the post. The names for final decision were sent to party president Sonia Gandhi.
With Chhabra’s appointment, former MP Pawan Bansal’s camp has got a shot in the arm, soon after winning the MC’s mayoral polls. The move to change the president is said to be the fallout of the Lok Sabha polls, when the party witnessed defeat of its candidate Pawan Bansal to BJP’s Kirron Kher. Congress had lost in all 26 wards.
Interestingly, since Bahl became the president in May 2000, the party won two MP elections and majority of the Chandigarh municipal corporation elections, and lost just one MP election in 2014.
In September 2014, Shakeel Ahmad, who is incharge of the party affairs for Chandigarh, had written to Gandhi calling for a change of head of the Chandigarh unit, stating that, “There is a dire need for change in the organisation as the party for the past several months has become inactive in city.”
Sources in the Congress said there would also be changes in the president’s team in the coming months after discussion with the party high command. Reacting to Chhabra’s appointment, HS Lucky, one of the contenders for the post, said, “I welcome the decision taken by the high command.”