Kirron Kher in tough contest

Kirron Kher

The capital city Chandigarh is poised for a triangular contest, and retaining this Lok Sabha seat would be an uphill task for the BJP.

Sitting MP and actor Kirron Kher is pitted against two former union ministers: ex-Union railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal of the Congress and former Union civil aviation minister Harmohan Dhawan of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Kirron Kher, the wife of actor Anupam Kher, won this seat in 2014, riding on the perceptive Modi wave securing over 42% of votes.

Five years down the line, the political dynamics have altered, making the going tough for the sitting BJP MP. Modi arguably finds limited resonance in Chandigarh as compared to 2014.

Kher’s main challenger, Pawan Kumar Bansal of the Congress party, a four-time MP from Chandigarh, has a dedicated supporter base. He dubs Kher as an outsider. “You can win the elections as a celebrity once. But you need to perform as an MP to seek votes again. For Kirron Kher, Chandigarh is just another studio where she performs theatrically,” Bansal told DH.

Kher retorts saying in the last five years, she has made the city her home and did not act in even one movie. She accuses Bansal of running his election campaign through hired public relation agencies.

The AAP in 2014 showed considerable traction in the Union Territory of Chandigarh when it fielded celebrity Gul Panag for her debut election. Panag gained over 1.08 lakh votes but ended losing to both Kher and Bansal.

This time around, the AAP has placed its bet on former Chandigarh MP Harmohan Dhawan. Having lived in the city for decades, the veteran politician too has a considerable support base. However, the AAP support base in the city has arguably waned and Dhawan, who joined the AAP in November 2018, may have to struggle.

Local issues, including metro rail, infrastructure, status of the 22 villages etc are dominating the narrative in Chandigarh. Prime minister Narendra Modi a few days ago in Chandigarh raised the issue of cash-for-jobs during UPA term involving relatives of Pawan Kumar Bansal.

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