Congress finds no ward to field sitting Chandigarh mayor

Chandigarh : Ironic as it may sound, the sitting mayor of Chandigarh has not been able to find favour with the ruling Congress party to get himself a ward to contest next month’s municipal corporation election in the city.

Mayor Ravinder Pal Singh is not among the list of 26 candidates announced by the Congress for the Dec 17 election.

Ravinder Pal Singh, a councillor from ward number 21, was unable to find a new seat for himself as his seat got reserved for a woman candidate this time.

He is not the only Congress candidate affected by seats getting reserved for women. Some candidates, like ward number 1 councillor Chander Mukhi Sharma, have been forced to shift to others wards.

A total of nine out of 26 seats, including two for the Scheduled Caste category, have been reserved for women this time.

The mayor is not alone among the Congress bigwigs who have not been able to find a seat to contest in the poll.

Senior Deputy Mayor Kuldeep Singh, who has held the post twice, too is among the leaders dropped by the Congress. Former senior deputy mayor (2008) Anju Beniwal is also not among the Congress candidates.

“In an election year when the mayor and other senior functionaries are supposed to be the face of the party, we have a situation where these leaders are unable to even contest. This is really embarrassing. People are already saying that the Congress has been promoting rootless leaders,” a sitting Congress councillor told IANS, requesting anonymity.

Defending the party’s choice of candidates, Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee president B.B. Bahl said: “We have given representation to different sections.”

“The list has been approved by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi,” he said.

Bahl did not elaborate on why the sitting mayor and the senior deputy mayor were not fielded this time.

Congress sources said that the mayor was inclined to contest from ward number 18 this time but the party preferred Davinder Singh Babla, a loyalist of union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who is the Chandigarh MP, on the ward.

Babla, a controversial leader, was arrested by police two years ago on corruption charges during his tenure as Chandigarh’s market committee chief.

Bansal’s loyalists have bagged a majority of the Congress tickets this time, sources said.

Former mayor Anu Chatrath, who is the councillor from ward number two, is the only woman candidate of the Congress contesting a seat not reserved for women. The Congress has fielded 10 women candidates this time.

According to sources, party leaders have ensured that tickets for the reserved category and some other seats go to their relatives. Sitting councillor Vijay Singh Rana has got the ticket for his mother, Rana Kashmiri Devi.

While 26 councillors are elected for a five-year term, nine councillors are nominated by the union territory administrator. The Chandigarh MP is also a part of the corporation.

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