The appointment of Pardeep Chhabra, 53, as president of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee on January 9 has left many disturbed. Chhabra emerged as a winner for the top post of the party among all loyalists of former member of Parliament (MP) Pawan Bansal. However, the decision has not gone down well within the Bansal camp.
The development is significant as Chhabra has superseded many senior and much more experienced leaders in the city.
A former Congress mayor remarked, “He will be just another rubber stamp or puppet in the hands of Bansal. The Bansal era will continue as is going on since 1990s. The second-generation leaders who are not close to Bansal camp have never been encouraged. If Chhabra will also toe Bansal’s line, he will also not get cooperation.”
The leaders in the Bansal camp, however, clarified they were not against his candidature in particular but against the ‘secret’ method adopted for his appointment.
The leaders, who are not ready to talk on record, say the final call is always taken by Bansal, and they are hardly involved in decision making - be it for the post of mayor, deputy mayor and now for the post of Congress president.
A former Congress councillor, seeking anonymity, said the name of Pardeep Chhabra was added at the last minute on December 26, after the recommendation of Bansal, saying Chhabra was the most deserving of all names being forwarded for the post.
He added, “It is strange the senior leadership of the party gave weightage to the recommendation of a leader who recently lost Lok Sabha elections himself.” Another senior leader and former mayor said the party had decided to change the president following the defeat of Congress in the Lok Sabha elections. However, this time too, the senior leadership had gone by what Bansal has recommended without any discussion with them.
A proper procedure should have been followed before the appointment of the president, he said, adding the observer should have come from Delhi, a discussion should have been held between the cadre workers, and that the opinion of former presidents should also have been considered before making the final decision.
There are a total of 25 block presidents and 25 executive members of the Congress, but the high command did not consider anyone’s opinion, he said.
Senior Congress leader Chandermukhi Sharma, who had introduced Pardeep Chhabra to National Student Union of India (NSUI) in 1990s said, “It’s good that the person has been chosen from my team and is heading the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee. From the Pawan Bansal camp, Chhabra was the most suitable and deserving candidate.
There has never been a practice of discussion within the party before making any decision.”
Bansal could not contacted despite repeated attempts.
‘Tandon responsible for defeat’
Former councillors of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) held a meeting with former general secretary of the party BK Kapoor to discuss about their defeat in mayoral elections held recently, on Saturday.
The former councillors said party councillor Arun Sood and president Sanjay Tandon should be held responsible for the party’s poor performance in the elections.
Former councillors, including Anil Dubey, Ram Lal, Sunita Chaudhary, Rajkumari Mishra and Sarita Sharma, attended the meeting. They said the campaigning was not done properly and cross voting was the result of infighting within the party.
They said Sanjay Tandon should resign taking moral responsibility for the defeat.