Karnal Lok Sabha seat: Controversies marred BJP MP Ashwini Kumar Chopra’s tenure
Despite being a constituency dominated by Brahmins, Karnal dumped three-time Congress MP Arvind Sharma, a Brahmin, and supported BJP candidate Chopra, who got 5.95 lakh votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.Updated: Feb 20, 2019 16:13 IST
Ashwini Kumar Chopra, a media baron, is a first-time Member of Parliament who rode the Narendra Modi wave to win the parliamentary election from Karnal in 2014 despite being an outsider but his tenure was no smooth sailing as it was marred by controversies.
Despite being a constituency dominated by Brahmins, Karnal dumped three-time Congress MP Arvind Sharma, a Brahmin, and supported BJP candidate Chopra, who got 5.95 lakh votes. The last time the BJP won was when ID Swami got elected in 1999.
Chopra was not visible in the constituency for most part of his term because of health problems. His wife, Kiran, who runs a social organisation, filled in for him to oversee development works carried out with the MP local area development (MPLAD) funds. While Karnal’s amenities and cleanliness improved on account of it being chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s assembly constituency, Chopra focused on the rural areas, where he spent most of his funds.
But the common complaint against Chopra has been his absence from the constituency. His critics say that he always appeared to accomplish his own political ambitions and failed to rise to people’s expectations. Posters were even put up by his rivals in Karnal terming him “a missing MP”.
Chopra’s frequent outbursts against Khattar, earned him criticism within the BJP. He even went to the extent of questioning Khattar’s ability to run the government. The MP was critical of Khattar’s frequent use of helicopters, saying it would distance the chief minister from ground realities. The two leaders hardly shared the dais at public functions with Chopra skipping almost all rallies addressed by the chief minister in Karnal and Panipat districts, which formed part of his parliamentary constituency.
Chopra also faced criticism for his ‘thumkawali’ jibe against Haryanvi singer-dancer Sapna Chaudhary on her allegiance to the Congress. He even left his party red-faced in the recent past when he wrote a front page article in his newspaper comparing Congress general secretary in-charge of east Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, to her grandmother and late prime minister Indira Gandhi.
Work in constituency
There are, however, some works, including one skill centre each in Karnal and Panipat, besides two railway underpasses which are his contribution to his constituency. Party workers say he spent most of his funds on roads, buildings, solar panels, lights and infrastructure in villages. He adopted two villages, Mohibinipur and Sewah, which villagers say have seen substantial development.
Sewah sarpanch Khushdil Kadyan praised Chopra for offering funds generously and supporting works worth lakhs. Mohibinipur sarpanch Ram Singh says the MP spent on building roads, boundary walls of the government school, a stadium, a cremation ground, a bus stand, toilets for 25 needy families and solar panels in the village.
The Karnal Lok Sabha constituency comprises the assembly segments of Karnal, Indri, Panipat rural, Panipat city, Gharaunda, Nilokheri, Assandh and Samalkha. Barring Samalkha, all other assembly segments were represented by first-time BJP MLAs. Samalkha’s independent MLA Ravinder Kumar is all praise for Chopra for the development works carried out in his constituency. “He has always given grants to our panchayats. He got the stoppage of a few trains at Samalkha on my request,” he says.
Ticket for wife?
Chopra has clarified that he will not be contesting the elections this time. Instead, he wants the BJP ticket be given to his wife. “Though my husband announced that he will not contest, I’ve been asked by the people of the constituency to do so. I’ve been associated with the constituency for the past four-and-a-half years and served it through my NGO. If I’m given an opportunity by the party leadership, I’d like to serve the people of Karnal,” said Kiran .
First Published: Feb 20, 2019 16:13 IST