Cross-voting shadow over BJP as Chandigarh gets new mayor on Friday – chandigarh
The city will get a new mayor on Friday amid fears of cross-voting as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) eyes a fifth consecutive term for its candidate in a two corner fight this time for the last mayoral election of the current MC House, which goes to polls by the end of this year.
Discontent is ripe within the BJP over selection of its nominees though on paper it appears to be smooth sailing for the party, which has 21 electoral votes, including that of the city MP who as ex-officio councillor can vote in the mayoral election. The Congress has five votes and the Shiromani Akali Dal one.
Fissures within the party appeared to have deepened on January 4, the last date of filling of nomination papers, when BJP councillors Chandervati Shukla and Bharat Kumar revolted against the party. However, following a change of heart, they returned to its fold in a show of strength at the city party headquarters, where, except for Heera Negi, who has been hospitalised after contracting Covid-19, all party councillors were present.
But party insiders say that anger among party councillors is still smouldering.
Divisions in party
“For most, there’s anger over choice of party candidates (senior deputy mayor and councillor Ravi Kant Sharma is the mayoral pick) as there’s a strong feeling that people who earlier worked against party interests are being awarded with posts now,” said a councillor requesting anonymity.
For some, the recent ward delimitation has also come as a shocker. “Some of the current councillors are finding it hard to lose major areas of their older wards to newly created ones, which could mar their chances of a re-election. They are worried that they might even lose the party ticket and are questioning the intentions of the party’s current leadership on creation of new wards in areas unfavourable for them,” said the councillor.
Cross-voting won’t be a first for the party, as in 2019 elections, too, rebel candidate (Satish Kainth) had managed to get 11 votes.
The situation has become all the more tricky for the BJP as the magic mark of 14 can elude it and be reduced to 13 votes as BJP councillor Hira Negi and city MP Kirron Kher are unwell and unlikely to vote. SAD, a former BJP ally, is likely to boycott the elections.
Aware of its weak position in the House, the Congress is hoping for cross-voting in the BJP though it is keeping its cards close to its chest.
“We have not contacted any of the BJP councillors on the election. It is up to them,” said Devinder Singh Babla, the Congress’s mayoral nominee. Notably, Congress had declared support for Shukla’s candidature for the mayor’s post, but later, the MC secretary rejected her nomination papers on technical grounds.
The BJP leadership, however, remained confident that voting day will go without any hitches. “We will win all three posts, with all BJP votes in favour of party nominees,” said state party chief Arun Sood.
The state party in-charge, Dushyant Gautam, also arrived in city on Thursday and attended a meeting with the party councillors.