Lok Sabha election: Suspense over, BJP bets on Kirron for Chandigarh seat again
Laying all speculations to rest, ruling party chooses sitting MP over local unit chief Sanjay Tandon and two-time parliamentarian Satya Pal JainUpdated: Apr 23, 2019 22:58 IST
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has reposed faith on Bollywood actor and sitting MP Kirron Kher for the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat.
Uncertainty over the party ticket ended on Tuesday with the BJP central election committee announcing her candidature.
Kirron pipped city party chief Sanjay Tandon and former MP Satya Pal Jain for the prized ticket even as the central leadership hotly debated her performance during her tenure.
Jubilant and relieved, Kirron thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cabinet minister Arun Jaitley and BJP president Amit Shah for reposing faith in her, while talking to mediapersons at her office in Sector 8.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Kirron was paradropped only about three weeks ahead of the polling day and defeated the then sitting Congress MP Pawan Kumar Bansal by 70,000 votes. In a triangular contest, she had polled around 1.91 lakh votes, while Bansal got 1.21 lakh and former Miss India and AAP candidate Gul Panag bagged 1.08 lakh.
In her favour
Labelled by her detractors within and outside the BJP as a “non-performer and inaccessible”, Kirron is said to have won the central leadership nod for the Chandigarh ticket because of her “clean image”, “involvement in local issues” and “satisfactory performance as a first time MP”.
A crucial factor, though, say party insiders, was her husband and film actor Anupam Kher’s clout within the BJP top brass. Anupam, regularly taking on the critics of the Modi government, recently acted as former prime minister Manmohan Singh in the movie Accidental Prime Minister. The movie critiqued 10 years of the Congress rule.
Anupam, out of India on acting assignments for 100 days this year, returned only three days before the deadlock for the Chandigarh BJP ticket ended in Kirron’s favour.
“He has been very supportive and will be campaigning for me,” is what Kirron said.
Capt Abhimanyu, Haryana finance minister and party election in-charge for Chandigarh, said: “Her popularity with the people and excellent performance during the last five years helped decide ticket in her favour.”
The fight ahead
Pitted against Congress six-time Chandigarh MP Pawan Kumar Bansal and Aam Aadmi Party’s Harmohan Dhawan, who campaigned for her in the last elections, Kirron’s first major challenge will be to take everyone along in the party, especially the Tandon faction.
The long drawn tension between the Kirron and Tandon camps was deepened with the party delaying the ticket announcement. Since her announcement as the party candidate in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the two camps have been at loggerheads.
Both Tandon and Jain were not present at the press conference called by Kirron after the announcement. Questioned on factionalism, she said: “Everyone in the party will work together to ensure Narendra Modi becomes the Prime Minister again.”
Later, the MP also visited the houses of both Tandon and Jain besides Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) local chief Triloki Nath Goel.
Talking to HT, Jain said: “I have always respected and gone with the party decision.”
“The party will surely retain the seat,” said Prabhat Jha, BJP’s Chandigarh affairs in-charge