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Posted at: Apr 24, 2019, 6:49 AM; last updated: Apr 24, 2019, 8:54 AM (IST)

Suspense over, it’s Kher

Saffron party picks sitting MP over city unit chief Tandon, Jain

Sandeep Rana
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 23

After a long wait, the BJP high command today renominated its sitting MP Kirron Kher from the city for the Lok Sabha elections. The polling will be held on May 19.

Though there were two other contenders for the ticket -- city BJP chief Sanjay Tandon and former MP Satya Pal Jain -- the ruling party reposed its faith once again on the celebrity-turned-politician. 

The two, along with former BJP leader Harmohan Dhawan, who is now the AAP candidate from the city, were aspirants for the party ticket in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections too, but had to bite the dust.

Sources said Kher and Tandon, who are said to be divided in two factions in the city party unit, were leading the race for the ticket among the three probables whose names were earlier sent to the BJP by the party's Chandigarh election in-charge, Capt Abhimanyu.

BJP sources told Chandigarh Tribune that her husband Anupam Kher, who recently returned from the USA, was one of the major forces behind the pick. 

Besides, Kher had an upper hand in three surveys conducted by the party earlier to gauge the ground reality. However, in one of the surveys, 95 per cent workers favoured the local BJP chief. Earlier, she was reportedly offered to contest from Amritsar or Gurdaspur, which she "turned down". However,  she refuted such reports.

Tandon and Jain congratulated her and said they would support her and would help make Narendra Modi the PM again. On the delay in the announcement of her name, Kher said polling for Chandigarh was to be held in the end, so the names were announced accordingly. However, she said they had been working for long for the elections.

Pitted against old warhorses

Kher is pitted against old warhorses -- four-time Congress MP Pawan Kumar Bansal and AAP candidate Harmohan Dhawan. On Bansal, she said, “We will win this time, that too by a bigger margin.” On Dhawan, she said, “I respect him a lot and I will only concentrate on enhancing my victory margin.” 

Only close councillors seen at her house     

Only councillors close to Kirron Kher were seen to welcome her at her Sector 8 residence after the announcement of her candidature. Councillors Heera Negi, Raj Bala Malik and Kanwarjeet were among those present. Councillors supporting Tandon were conspicuous by their absence. She was garlanded at her house and party slogans were raised by her supporters. 

Achievements           

  • Kirron Kher has bettered the national average of attendance and questions asked in the Lok Sabha. 
  • She has 84 per cent attendance in Parliament against the national average of 80 per cent. 
  • She asked 337 questions in the Lok Sabha while 293 is the national average, according to PRS India data from January 1, 2014, to February 13, 2019.
  • She had got Rs 22.5 crore from the Central Government under the MPLADS. Of this, Rs 20 crore was released by her for various works. Besides, she exhausted the unspent fund of Rs 4 crore pertaining to the tenure of her predecessor Pawan Kumar Bansal (Till January 5, 2019).
  • Kher is relying on having fulfilled certain major demands, including allowing need-based changes in CHB flats, conversion of residential leasehold properties into freehold (though the high cost has been an issue) and the Union Cabinet’s nod for land to the CHB for the construction of apartments for 3,930 allottees, a scheme hanging fire for about a decade, among others.
Lows

  • Till January 5, 2019, about 65 per cent of the development works she recommended under the MPLADS were either pending or have been dropped.
  • Her detractors have questioned her over her presence in the city
  • The city unit remained divided between her and Tandon
  • Criticised for remarks on Chandigarh gang rape case and also for her antics in a video which went viral during a Parliament session 

"I stayed in the city for five years. I got people’s work done. We have given a clean and swachh sarkar in five years and will do the same again." — Kirron Kher

"Chances of my win are bright. Her five-year term was of unkept promises and false claims. People have seen both of us as MPs, they will pick the best candidate." — Pawan Bansal, Congress

"I called her my younger sister in the last elections and I still feel so. However, none of the 60 promises made in the BJP manifesto in 2014 has been fulfilled." — Harmohan Dhawan, AAP 

2014 report card
  • Kirron Kher (BJP) 1,91,362 votes
  • Pawan Bansal (Cong) 1,21,720
  • Gul Panag (AAP) 1,08,679

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