CHANDIGARH: In 2014, the Modi wave had pitched actor-turned-politician Kirron Kher into Parliament. But this time the turf is not easy for the Chandigarh MP and BJP candidate who is facing ‘outsider’ tag and dissension against her candidature within her party.
Her Congress rival, four-time MP and former Union minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who has taken up local issues with a vengeance, appears to have an edge while Kirron is once again banking heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity to win a second term.
The BJP state unit is divided over who, between her and state party president Sanjay Tandon, should have got the ticket.
Anupam Kher’s last-minute intervention seems to have got his wife the ticket in the face of a determined bid by Tandon and Satya Pal Jain — an ex-MP and senior lawyer who was also in the race — but left her adrift of supporters.
The BJP strongly denies rumours of a rift and is trying to put up a united face in public.
On the other hand, Bansal has full backing of party workers and his campaign has also gained traction over the local issues that the veteran has been raising.
“People here are looking for a candidate who will solve local issues as they feel their MP must take care of cleanliness, parking problems and other issues,” said a resident.
Bansal is blaming the BJP for drop in the city’s ranking from the first position to the 20th spot in Swachh Sarvekshan 2019. The BJP has been unable to counter the charge as the local municipal corporation is under the party.
What has come as a bigger dampener for the BJP is the universal charge that Kher has been ‘an outsider’ and an absentee MP, remaining in Mumbai most of the time.
Kher counters this saying she grew up and studied in Chandigarh, but the argument has failed to wash. She is also seeking votes in PM Modi’s name.