Bansal, Chaudhary fail first test after AICC elevation


Congress treasurer and former Lok Sabha MP from Chandigarh, Pawan Bansal and In-charge of Punjab and Chandigarh, Harish Chaudhary, have failed in their first litmus test as Chandigarh Municipal poll results show the Congress is way behind BJP and AAP.

Chaudhary was appointed In-charge recently while Pawan Bansal was elevated after the demise of Ahmed Patel. Bansal is a former minister of Railways and Parliamentary Affairs who was MP from Chandigarh till 2014 when he lost to the BJP. The Chandigarh elections were managed by him and Chaudhary as UT In-charge, but they could not apprehend the growing popularity of the AAP. The Congress suffered a major setback in the Chandigarh municipal polls ahead of the crucial Assembly elections in Punjab as the AAP has emerged as the single largest party followed by the BJP.

Harish Chaudhary was instrumental in the operation for the removal of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and was given the coveted assignment as a prize from Rahul Gandhi, but the party’s performance in the Chandigarh polls will have implications on his Punjab strategy and the sources say that the Congress will have to take a relook at the Punjab situation afresh. The Congress may witness more infighting in Punjab and many MPs are already up in arms against Chaudhary.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which contested the polls for the first time, has registered an impressive performance. The Congress, which was aiming to defeat the BJP, has been pushed to the third place. AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal said that “this victory in Chandigarh is a sign of upcoming change in Punjab.”

The Congress, which was already facing an anti-incumbency factor will have to fight a three-front battle — the resurgent AAP, the BJP-Amarinder Singh combine and the Akali Dal-BSP front. The party which was hoping to reap dividends from the farmers’ agitation has to rethink its strategy after some farm unions formed a political party in the state. The Congress, which is mired in infighting in the state, will have to gear up for the Punjab polls. There may not be an easy walkover as the Congress had thought after replacing Amarinder Singh as the Chief Minister and appointing Charanjit Singh Channi to get the Scheduled Caste votes, which is the highest in the country, but the recent issues of sacrilege and lynching has put the Chief Minister on the backfoot.

The AAP has won 14 out of 35 seats in the Chandigarh Municipal polls, the BJP bagged 12 seats, the Congress has won only eight and has been pushed to the third spot, while the SAD won only one seat.



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