Congress aims for a hat-trick in Chandigarh

May 12th, 2009 - 11:35 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Chandigarh, May 12 (IANS) The Congress and its sitting MP Pawan Kumar Bansal are aiming for a hat-trick of victories in the Chandigarh parliamentary constituency which goes to the polls Wednesday.
With the sobriquet of ‘City Beautiful’ attached to its name, Chandigarh - a union territory and the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana - is an important political centre of northern India.

In the fifth and final phase of the general elections Wednesday a 522,650-strong electorate will decide the outcome of this centrally administered city, which has a history of direct contest between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The fight this time is again between traditional rivals, the BJP’s Satya Pal Jain and Pawan Kumar Bansal, who is minister of state for finance. Both Bansal and Jain are lawyers by training.

Though the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has fielded former union minister and eternal party swapper Harmohan Dhawan, he is unlikely to finish anywhere near the top. He had lost his security deposit in the 2004 general elections.

Another candidate among the 14 contestants for the Chandigarh seat includes Hafiz Anwar-ul-Haq of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

The voting percentage is an issue of concern. In 2004, it was 52.06 percent. In 1998 and 1999, it was only 42.36 percent and 46.99 percent respectively.

Bansal, 60, had won the Chandigarh seat in 1991, 1999 and 2004 and he is looking at a fourth term in the Lok Sabha. In 2004, he had beaten Jain by a margin of 45,248 votes.

The share of polled votes of the Congress has increased significantly during their wins. It received 35 percent votes in 1991 that increased to 47 percent and 52 percent in 1999 and 2004 respectively.

However, this time, Jain is giving a tough fight to Bansal.

Local issues like future planning for the city, providing a metro service, building flyovers and other projects have dominated the poll campaign even though the BJP has tried to highlight national issues like price hike and security.

Jain, who was once a newspaper hawker, had first contested the election from Chandigarh as a BJP candidate in 1991 but lost by a margin of nearly 15,000 votes. He was 39 at that time.

However, he won the seat in the next elections in 1996 by defeating Congress candidate Bansal by a margin of about 25,000 votes. He won again in 1998, beating Bansal by a margin of nearly 10,000, but lost in 2004.

Jain and Bansal are pitted against each other for the fifth time.

The BSP’s Dhawan had won the Chandigarh seat only once in 1989. He had a vote share of 42 percent in 1989 that had decreased to a mere six percent in 2004.

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