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It’s political clash between Chandigarh-born and four decades of local connect candidate

Chandigarh, April 23, 2024
After Congress and BJP weeded out veterans and picked comparatively new faces for the parliamentary seat of Chandigarh, with rural voters less than three per cent, both the parties are vying to win the seat in their maiden contest from the City Beautiful.

The BJP has fielded Sanjay Tandon, dropping two-term member of Parliament (MP) and actor-turned-politician Kirron Kher, while the Congress has reposed faith in two-time MP Manish Tewari. Both are second-generation politicians.

Tandon, who has connected with the people of Chandigarh for four decades, will be taking on the INDIA bloc candidate Tewari, who is backed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has named three-time city councillor Hardeep Singh Saini, 41, as its candidate for Chandigarh, making the election a three-cornered contest. In the previous Lok Sabha polls, SAD had been in alliance with the BJP.

Businessman and chartered accountant Tandon, 60, who was expecting the ticket for a decade, believes, “Patience is the biggest virtue a politician can have”. His father, Balramji Dass Tandon, was the Governor of Chhattisgarh from July 2014 to August 2018. He took Sanjay to an RSS ‘shakha’ when he was six.

Veteran and former city MP Satyapal Jain and former mayor Arun Sood were hopeful for a BJP ticket. Sood had replaced Tandon as the BJP President.

Likewise, Congress veteran Pawan Kumar Bansal had won the seat four times in a row till the BJP bet on the actor-turned-politician Kirron Kher to breach his bastion in 2014.

After the announcement of Tewari’s candidature, several party leaders have resigned from various posts for ignoring Bansal’s claim.

Tewari, 59, who has been labelled an “outsider”, both by party rivals and the main archrival BJP, despite being born and brought up in the city, is a former Union Minister Information and Broadcasting Minister. He’s the outgoing MP from Anandpur Sahib and a former MP from Ludhiana, both seats in Punjab.

“I was born in Chandigarh. I studied at St John’s Senior School and did my college from here. So how can I be an outsider,” Tewari, who was the president of the Indian Youth Congress from 1998 to 2000, told IANS while shedding the “outsider” tag.

Tewari lost the 2004 Lok Sabha polls but won the 2009 elections from Ludhiana.

During his pre-university days in Chandigarh, Tewari, who was a nominated councillor of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation from 2011-2016, joined the youth wing of the Congress and rose to become the All India Youth President before becoming the Secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC).

Tewari, whose attendance in the outgoing Lok Sabha is 95 per cent and who participated in 79 debates, comes from a prominent Punjabi family.

His father V.N. Tewari, a professor at the Panjab University, Chandigarh, was killed by terrorists in 1984, months ahead of Operation Blue Star, and the mother Amrit Tewari was a dentist and worked as head of the Oral Health Sciences Centre of PGIMER, Chandigarh.

Tewari’s grandfather Sardar Tirath Singh was a minister in the Congress government in Punjab.

BJP’s Tandon vision for Chandigarh — a place that he called home since he was 14 years — is “the city beautiful that we all love and there’s much to be done to make it what it’s truly capable of becoming.

Chandigarh has the potential to be the leading city in the country on all meaningful parameters, like education, healthcare, sanitation, quality of life, ease-of-doing business, etc.”

Tandon’s father was a founding member of the Jan Sangh in 1951. He was also the former deputy chief minister of Punjab in 1969-70 and was elected legislator six times, five times from Amritsar and once from Rajpura between 1960 and 1997, having also served as the Punjab BJP president from 1995 to 1997.

Addressing one of his public meetings in Ram Darbar, a semi-urban locality dominated by migrant labourers, Tewari elaborated plans to bring in much-awaited development in the area which has been denied to them in the past 10 years.

At an interaction with students of Panjab University, he said the passion and enthusiasm of the youth strengthened his commitment to build a brighter future for them.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Kirron Kher defeated Congress’ Pawan Bansal by more than 70,000 votes. She again defeated Bansal in 2019 by more than 45,000 votes.

Since its inception in 1967, the Congress has dominated the seat seven times. The BJP won four times, while the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the Janata Dal, and the Janata Party held the seat for a single term each.

Chandigarh, with nearly 1,500 parks, gardens and green belts with trees of the traditional and exotic varieties, is also ample for the city having a population of nearly 10 lakh people.

According to election data, there are 647,291, comprising 312,198 women and 33 third gender, electors in Chandigarh. They comprise 15,006 electors in the age group of 18 and 1) and 4,799 above 85 years.

Chandigarh, planned by the iconic architect-planner, Le Corbusier, recorded a voter turnout of 70.62 per cent in 2019 fell by 3.39 per cent in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.(Agency)

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