Enthusiasm among grassroots workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party remained low as the party’s candidate Kirron Kher began her campaign on a lacklustre note in the Industrial Area on Wednesday. Earlier, protests had marked her arrival in the city.
Clad in a graceful cotton sari with minimal jewellery (unlike her usual style) the Bollywood actress began day one by interacting with business leaders, obviously the moneybags in the elections. She arrived an hour late at the venue, escorted by the BJP’s local unit chief Sanjay Tandon and senior leader Satya Pal Jain, to a hall packed with local industrialists, who began narrating their problems to her.
The select gathering, organised by the Industries Association of Chandigarh, was marked by a thin attendance of party workers. Kher was escorted to the venue by local unit chief Sanjay Tandon and senior leader Satya Pal Jain. A visibly overzealous Jain could be seen introducing her to the businessmen while Tandon maintained a low profile. No protests or black flags met Kher’s visit today. The BJP office in Sector 33 also wore a deserted look unlike on Tuesday when it was abuzz with activity.
Kher also held a meeting with the party workers at Punjab BJP office in Sector 37 to chalk out the campaign strategy. However, she did not go into campaign mood on the very first day and no meeting was lined up at any of the city’s slum colonies. While interacting with a delegation of small scale industrialists, led by Laghu Udyog Bharti chief PD Mongia, she reiterated she was a Punjabi who was raised in the city.
The businessmen told her about the various constraints hampering their factories. “We’re facing a huge shortage of space because of which we are constrained to store our raw materials in temporary shelters. The fear of theft always remains there and the raw materials get spoiled when it rains. We are suffering due to the UT administration’s faulty policies. The administration keeps sending us notices for violating norms. But our long pending demand to give us land on freehold instead of leasehold basis has yet not been fulfilled”, Mongia said.
He added the administration was levying draconian fines of Rs. 500 per square foot per month for perceived violations. Among those present on the occasion were general secretary BK Kapoor, Yash Pal Mahajan, Shiromani Akali Dal, Chandigarh, president, Jagjit Singh ‘Gora Kang’ and Kamla Sharma. The president of the Industries Association of Chandigarh, Arun Mahajan, Chandigarh Beopar Mandal president Charanjiv Singh and industrialist Pankaj Khanna also came to the gathering.
DHAWAN CALLS FOR MEETING TOMORROW
BJ Pleader Harmohan Dhawan has called a meeting of his supporters on March 21. He said he would hold a meeting with supporters to discuss further course of action. BJP local unit vice-president Ramvir Bhatti, who had resigned on Sunday, said a meeting with members of 20 villages would be held on Friday to decide whom to support in the elections.
However, Dhawan continued to maintain his silence on the issue of the party ticket being given to Kirron Kher. Sources close to the BJP said he was still hoping the party leadership might have a change of heart. At a meeting of BJP leaders in New Delhi the Chandigarh BJP affairs in charge Aarti Mehra was expected to brief them about developments in the city.
Kirron is also scheduled to file her nomination on Friday.