In Chandigarh, Manish Tewari wins a cliffhanger - Hindustan Times
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In Chandigarh, Manish Tewari wins a cliffhanger

Jun 05, 2024 05:54 PM IST

Congress’Manish Tewari polled 2,16,657 votes against Sanjay Tandon’s 2,14,153 votes in a nail-biting finish where his lead swung up and down through the counting process

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) target of achieving a hat-trick in Chandigarh fell apart on Tuesday, as INDIA bloc candidate Manish Tewari defeated its nominee Sanjay Tandon with a wafer-thin margin of 2,504 votes.

Manish Tewari was able to make the most of his experience of past polls and ran an aggressive campaign. (Keshav SIngh/HT)
Manish Tewari was able to make the most of his experience of past polls and ran an aggressive campaign. (Keshav SIngh/HT)

The Congress had teamed up with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to inflict defeat on the BJP, fielding two-time MP and former Union minister Tewari, 58, against poll debutant Tandon, 60. Manish Tewari polled 2,16,657 votes against Tandon’s 2,14,153 votes in a nail-biting finish where his lead swung up and down through the counting process.

Riding on the Narendra Modi wave, BJP’s Kirron Kher had defeated four-time Congress MP Pawan Kumar Bansal by 69,642 votes in 2014, and retained the seat in 2019 by a margin of roughly 46,000 votes against Bansal again. Cashing in on anti-incumbency against the sitting MP, Congress shifted a seasoned Tewari from Anandpur Sahib, where he had won in 2019 after his first Lok Sabha win from Ludhiana seat in the 2009 polls.

As of Tandon, son of former Punjab minister and RSS veteran, Balram Ji Dass Tandon, who remained city’s BJPchief for a decade, he was given the Chandigarh ticket after Kher bowed out due to health reasons. At the counting centre in Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology, Sector 26, a down-to-the-wire contest was witnessed as counting began at 8 am.

Tewari won the initial eight rounds, but thereafter some went in his favour, while others were bagged by Tandon.

At one point, the highest margin was of 10,194, which finally settled at 2,504 votes.

In the June 1 elections, Chandigarh saw a fall of 2% with only 68% voters turning up against 70.6% in 2019 and 73.7% in 2014.

This is for the third time in the electoral history of Chandigarh when a candidate was voted against the party which won at the Centre — first in 1967 and then in 1999.

In the 15 Lok Sabha elections conducted in Chandigarh since 1967, the Congress has clinched victory eight times, while the BJP has secured the UT’s representation four times.

Tewari was able to make the most of his experience of past polls and ran an aggressive campaign. Even though Bansal mostly stayed away from the campaign, the alliance with the AAP worked to Tewari’s advantage as the party, with 14 councillors in the 35-member MC House, “wholeheartedly” started working for him. He was also able to deflect the BJP’s charge of “an outsider” and tried to project himself as a “Chandigarh boy”.

For BJP’s Tandon, strong anti-incumbency against Kirron Kher, coupled with reasons such as the mayoral poll controversy, snatched the victory from him.

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