In a big blow to the local unit of Congress, former mayor and Congress councillor Raj Bala Malik joined the BJP at Mahendergarh in Haryana on Thursday, where BJP national president Amit Shah flagged off the “Vijay Sankalp Yatra”.
Raj Bala had been a close aide of former member of Parliament Pawan Bansal and was associated with the Congress for the past three decades.
A qualified advocate, Raj Bala is wife of RK Malik, senior advocate at Punjab and Haryana high court. It was her husband’s reported closeness to Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda which had helped her in getting the post of mayor in Congress rule. Raj Bala’s daughter is, in fact, married to Raghubir Singh Kadian, a Congress MLA from Beri in Haryana.
She contested MC’s elections from ward number 1 for the first time on Congress ticket in December 2011 and won by 594 votes. She became the mayor of Chandigarh MC in 2012.
Speaking to HT, Raj Bala said, “I was feeling suffocated in the Congress. Moreover, I am keen to contest MLA elections from my hometown Panipat on BJP ticket. I feel this is the right time to join the BJP.”
With Raj Bala joining the BJP, tally of BJP-SAD councillors has gone to 14 out of total 36 in the MC House, which includes MP Kirron Kher, who is an ex-officio member of the House.
Now, out of total 26 elected councillors, the number of BJP-SAD councillors is 13, Congress 11 and BSP two. The BJP also enjoys the support of two BSP councillors.
The Congress had also lost support of the nominated councillors as in the mayoral elections held on January 1, it lost the posts of senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor as four of the nine nominated councillors voted for the BJP.
Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee (CTCC) president BB Bahl said, “In a democratic country anybody is free to join any party. With Raj Bala joining the BJP, the Congress will not be affected.”
A senior Congress councillor said, “We never thought that Raj Bala would join the BJP as she was associated with the Congress for long. In the past, she never complained of any suffocation and always used to take a dig on the BJP in House meetings.”
Chandigarh BJP chief Sanjay Tandon said, “It is just the beginning and many more Congress councillors are in touch with us.”