Old controversies come back to haunt Chander Mohan
Haryana assembly elections: Former deputy chief minister is contesting from Panchkula on Congress ticketUpdated: Oct 09, 2019 01:43 IST
Making a come back after an absence of nearly 10 years from the Panchkula political scene, Congress candidate Chander Mohan Bishnoi is struggling to get back his old political support in the city.
A former deputy chief minister (CM) and son of former CM Bhajan Lal, Chander Mohan won the Kalka constituency, which also included Panchkula city at the time, four times in a row from 1993 to 2005.
This time around, fighting for the first time from Panchkula, a predominantly urban assembly constituency created in 2009, Chander Mohan is not only taking on the BJP’s incumbent MLA Gian Chand Gupta, but also facing severe groupism within the Congress itself.
The city Congress mirrors the divide at the state-level, which has intense group rivalries among supporters of former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former Ambala MP Kumari Selja and former state Congress president Ashok Tanwar. The city, in addition to the Hooda, Selja and Tanwar groups, also has the Chander Mohan group.
“The sulking Tanwar loyalists are keeping away from his campaign, stating that the party does not reward hard work and loyalty,” said a senior Congress leader and former Panchkula MC president, who didn’t want to be named.
During his 10-year absence from the constituency, members of the rival groups found for the first time, the political space to shore up their own political careers. “Most of these leaders, which include many Panchkula MC councillors, had also applied for a ticket from Panchkula. After Mohan’s return, they have been again pushed to the political periphery. If he wins, they expect him to also dominate the party’s stand in MC,” said a local Congress leader holding a senior position in the party, who didn’t want to be named.
Denying any internal party conflicts, Mohan said, “We are united and everybody is supporting me in the elections.”
His rivals also question him on Kalka seat being his first choice for a Congress ticket. Mohan’s old political rival and former INLD leader Pradeep Chaudhary who recently joined Congress pipped him for the Kalka ticket.
“It is a non-controversy. I applied for both the seats,” said Mohan.
Another local grouse against him, “He was absent from the city for the last ten years. He didn’t even respond to our calls. Now, he expects us to support him again,” said a sector resident welfare association president, who didn’t want to be named.
RIVALS HOLD ON TO OLD CONTROVERSY
After enmeshing in the controversy emanating from his relationship with advocate Anuradha Bali alias Fiza Mohammad, Mohan lost his political footing in 2008. Mohan had married Bali after both converted to Islam and he changed his name to Chand Mohammed.
Congress denied him a ticket in the 2009 assembly elections. In 2014, his brother Kuldeep Bishnoi, who had floated the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), offered him a ticket from the Nalwa constituency but he lost.
“Electorates remember Mohan not for his work but for the Chand Muhammad controversy. A clip from 2008 has already gone viral on Whatsapp. The two-minute video clip shows Bishnoi with Bali on a flat’s balcony. Most consider Bishnoi’s behaviour in the clip indecent,” said a Congress leader not willing to be named.
But, for Chander Mohan, it is all in the past. “BJP is trying to employ these dirty tricks. My family, Congress party, and city’s people all support me. My work speaks for itself. I don’t want to steep to the low level of the BJP. They have nothing to show for the last five years and so are raking up such non-issues,” said Bishnoi.