Arun Sood of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will take on Congress’ Mukesh Bassi for the coveted post of the Chandigarh municipal corporation mayor on January 8.
The countdown for the mayoral elections began with candidates of the Congress and the BJP-SAD combine filing their nomination papers on Monday.
In the first half of the day, BJP councillors filed their nomination papers in the jam-packed office of MC joint commissioner Rajiv Gupta. From the BJP-SAD combine, Arun Sood filed nominations for the mayor’s post, Davesh Moudgil for senior deputy mayor and Hardeep Singh for deputy mayor. The nominees were accompanied by BJP local unit president Sanjay Tandon, member of Parliament Kirron Kher, senior leader Harmohan Dhawan and former mayor Harjinder Kaur.
After filing nominations, Kirron interacted with BJP councillors and told them to put up a united face to win mayoral polls. Kirron told the media that the party candidates would emerge victorious on all three seats.
Later, led by former MP Pawan Kumar Bansal, local Congress unit president Pardeep Chhabra and former mayor Subhash Chawla, Congress councillors filed their nominations. Mukesh Bassi filed his papers for the mayor’s post, Darshan Garg for senior deputy mayor and Gurbax Rawat for deputy mayor. The party candidates also interacted with Bansal in the mayor’s office after filing nominations. Talking to the media, Bansal said: “Although we are not in a majority, the party will win the polls.”
Commenting on the intervention of the BJP central leadership in mayoral polls, Bansal said: “It will have no impact as the BJP suffered defeat in Delhi and Bihar assembly elections even after the party’s top leaders canvassed in these two states.” He said nominated councillors had always been an important part of the municipal corporation and they should have rights equal to the elected members. “They should continue having voting rights,” he said.
The 36-member MC House has 15 BJP, eight Congress, two Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) councillors, besides an independent. The MP and nominated councillors are also members of the House.
The coveted post of the Chandigarh mayor has eluded the BJP for the past 15 years. The party has not won the mayoral elections since 2000 when BJP’s Shanta Hit Abhilashi was elected to the top post. In 2007, Harjinder Kaur of the SAD was elected mayor with the BJP and nominated councillors’ support. Although it has a majority in the House, the BJP has been struggling to win the coveted post due to infighting.