The Union Territory of Chandigarh goes to polls on Thursday in a three-sided battle between the incumbent Congress MP Pawan Kumar Bansal, BJP candidate Kirron Kher and AAP candidate Gul Panag.
Here's all you need to know about the lone 114 sq.km Chandigarh constituency before you cast your precious vote.
It has not been a smooth-sail for any of the three main candidates seeking a seat. And it's not the Opposition but infighting in their own parties that has embarrassed them.
Kirron Kher, Gul Panag 'outsiders'?
A day after the BJP declared Kher, an actress-turned-politician, as their candidate, party workers protested outside their office demanding the immediate withdrawal of her candidature. But Kher dismissed the protests. "It feels good that the party has chosen me to contest from Chandigarh. The party workers that are protesting against my candidature are 'mentally ill, Daily Bhaskar quotes her as saying.
It has been quite the same with AAP's star candidate and former Miss India Gul Panag. Soon after the initially announced candidate Savita Bhatti withdrew her nomination, AAP leader Manish Sisodia announced that Panag will be the party's candidate. Party workers, however, were not impressed and questioned Sisodia about "fielding parachute candidates" much like other political parties.
Could Railgate derail Bansal?
The former Railway minister's nephew Vijay Singla, along with 10 others, have been charged with bribery in a Rs 10-crore cash-for-post railway bribery case. While the CBI has given Bansal a clean chit in the case, the BJP has not let him off the hook. Could this affect his chances of being re-elected to the lower House? No one knows since no opinion polls have been conducted in the Union Territory.
Releasing a list of 16 scams, Chandigarh head of BJP Sanjay Tandon said if his party was elected to power, they would re-open all cases against Bansal and expose how the Chandigarh administration and the CBI protected him.
But Bansal seems unfazed by the repeated criticism bythe BJP. If a report in the Economic Times is to be believed, his entire family is campaigning from him reaching out to voters across the city.
Disarray within Congress
With the two-term UPA government facing a huge anti-incumbency wave, winnability is an issue for the ruling party's MPs. With regards to the Chandigarh seat, Union Minister Manish Tewari had reportedly been vying for the seat as winning from his current constituency Ludhiana was no easy task. The party, however, refused to let him contest from the seat, retaining Bansal for the 2014 polls.
Tewari, however, has denied the reports saying he had health issues which did not permit him to contest the polls this time.
"Between 1991 to 2004, I was an aspirant for Chandigarh. But once the party asked me to contest from Ludhiana, there was no question of looking back at Chandigarh," he told the Times of India in an interview.
Could Manmohan play spoiler for Bansal?
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may have made it clear that he is not running for the top job this time, but his popularity among Sikh voters has not dipped. If a Hindustan Times report is to be believed, PM Singh seems to be in “demand” in Punjab’s Sikh-dominated constituencies.
Could Singh not seeking a re-term dent Bansal's prospects? Both Kher and Panag are Sikhs, a community that constitutes 16 percent of the vote share. What also seems to be a factor is that at least 25,000 votes are from ex-servicemen. Both, Kher and Panag come from defence families.
2009 Lok Sabha results
Chandigarh has been loyal to the Congress in six of the last ten Lok Sabhas. In 2009, Bansal won by a massive 46.87 percent vote share (161,042 votes) compared to the 29.71 percent vote share (102,075 votes) won by BJP's Satya Pal Jain.
In the fourteenth Lok Sabha, Bansal won an even bigger 52.06 percent of the votes (139,880), while BJP's Jain won 35.22 percent of the votes (94,632).
While pre-poll surveys have chosen not to cover this constituency, it is unlikely to be an easy win for the Congress this time round.
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Updated Date: Apr 09, 2014 20:25:22 IST