Virtually remaining absent from her constituency after making it to the Lok Sabha from Chandigarh two years ago, Bollywood’s quintessential mom Kirron Kher has been in an overdrive for the past one month.
Kirron defeated senior Congress politician Pawan Kumar Bansal, riding on the Narendra Modi wave, but has been panned by her detractors for not making any major contribution towards the city’s development. She was hardly visible in the first two years, a fact that has been used to hold her responsible for Chandigarh’s failure to make the ‘smart city’ cut in the first attempt. Since the beginning of the third year of her five-year tenure, however, the MP has been attending public meetings, cutting ribbons and holding meetings with UT officials.
Soon after winning the elections, she had promised 24-hour water supply to colony dwellers in southern sectors. She had also promised to get additional 40 million gallons per day (MGD) of water from the Bhakra main line to meet the demand-supply gap, but there has been no movement in this direction. Work on this is not expected to be completed before next year.
Having opposed the metro project from day one, she has not offered concrete solution to address increasing traffic congestion across the city. Affordable housing for the middle class also remains a distant dream.
Biggest challenge from party unit
For Kirron, it was not a smooth ride, as she had entered a faction-ridden Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) local unit. She was welcomed to the city with black flags on her first day as an MP. In the first two years, she has struggled to strike a balance between managing this BJP factionalism and her Bollywood commitments.
Kirron’s failure to find acceptance within her party as well as the bureaucracy resulted in hardly any development work taking off in the first year. She tried to take charge by calling meetings with top bureaucrats in the first year, but nothing moved. The MP has also been termed “hardly accessible”, accused of spending more time shooting movies and television shows.
Things changing after change in UT top bureaucracy
Kirron, however, has all along been claiming that she has taken up development issues from day one, but the credit was being taken by others. In September 2015, she held a meeting with the UT administration and municipal corporation to review pending projects at Sarangpur village, which was adopted by her under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojnna. She had also raised the issue of not being invited to meetings and officers’ failure to reply to her communications. After the change in top bureaucracy in April, she has been taking up projects for the city with the Centre and has played a vital role in getting Chandigarh’s name among 23 fast-track smart cities.