Three in race for Chandigarh’s next mayor

Chandigarh The Bharatiya Janata Party, which enjoys a majority in the Chandigarh municipal corporation General House, is learnt to have zeroed in on three names for its next mayoral candidate.

The mayoral seat is reserved for a female candidate this time, and the BJP has six such councillors.

However, sources said the main contest is between Heera Negi, Sunita Dhawan and Raj Bala Malik, with former mayor Asha Jaswal, Chanderwati Shukla and Farmilla virtually out of the race.

The election is to be held on January 10, and the nominations are to filed by January 6.

Sources said a meeting is expected to take place on January 4 or 5 to finalise the candidate, in the presence of party’s Chandigarh affairs in-charge Prabhat Jha, local president Sanjay Tandon and MP Kirron Kher.

Of the 26 elected councillors, the BJP has a majority with 20 councillors. There are five Congress councillors while one is from the Akali Dal, also a BJP ally.

Who stands where?

All candidates are well connected. Raj Bala Malik is considered close to Kher. Getting elected to the House for the first time in 2011, she became the mayor the very next year. At that time, she was in the Congress, and moved to the BJP in 2014.

Qualified as a lawyer, Malik is the wife of RK Malik, senior advocate at the Punjab and Haryana high court. It was her family’s proximity to Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda that helped her get the mayoral post in 2012. She is now capitalising on her links within the BJP.

Several councillors close to Kher, including Maheshinder Singh Sidhu, Anil Dubey and Kanwar Rana, are canvassing for her.

Sunita Dhawan, a graduate in arts, is a first-time councillor, although she has been active within the party for the past 20 years. For the last two terms, she has been the president of Chandigarh BJP Mahila Morcha. She enjoys good rapport with all Tandon camp councillors and has close ties with former mayors Asha Jaswal and Arun Sood. Dhawan’s family, too, has strong links with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and BJP.

Heera Negi, on the other hand, is a tough nut to crack. A two-time councillor, she was the party’s mayoral choice in 2015. However, as the BJP was not in the majority, she did not win. She has again been lobbying hard. Originally from Uttarakhand, she even met her home state’s chief minister to seek support. She has reportedly even knocked at the doors of Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar to ensure her nomination.


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