Chandigarh's key metrics
Chandigarh's key metrics

Chandigarh set to see big battle for lone LS seat

  • Kirron Kher of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won Chandigarh’s lone Lok Sabha seat in 2014
  • The Union territory (UT) is the capital of two states, Punjab and Haryana

What is Chandigarh famous for?

Chandigarh is located 265km from Delhi. It shares part of its border on the eastern side with Haryana and the rest with Punjab. Chandigarh is India’s first planned city and also its most well-planned one. French architect Le Corbusier, with the help of Indian town planners, designed the majestic city, which has several places of interest such as the Rock Garden, Pinjore Garden, Zakir Hussain Rose Garden and the Sukhna Lake. Reputed educational institutions such as the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, and Panjab University are located in Chandigarh.

What is unique about Chandigarh and what is its social structure?

Chandigarh is a Union territory as well as the capital of not one but two states, Punjab and Haryana. According to the Punjab accord signed by Rajiv Gandhi and Harchand Singh Longowal, Chandigarh was supposed to become part of Punjab, while some Hindi-speaking areas of the state were to go to Haryana. However, that did not happen. The central government directly runs the UT through the governor of Punjab, who is the ex-officio administrator of Chandigarh. It is a model of economic success as its per capita income is the fourth highest among all Indian states and UTs.

Which are the main political parties?

The Congress and BJP are the main parties. Kher is pitted against four-time Chandigarh MP Pawan Kumar Bansal of the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party nominee Harmohan Dhawan.

What are the issues of concern for voters?

Unemployment is a major issue. Residents face water scarcity and the typically urban problems of drugs and crime. Rampant drug use has led to the increasing involvement of juveniles in crimes such as molestation, vehicle theft and murder. However, the Balakot strike could overshadow all these issues as the city has a rich and urban population that tends to give nationalism a lot of importance. Kher’s personal equation with the electorate and Prime Minister Narendra Modi could carry the day for BJP.

What works for Kher?

Kher is suave and fluent in three languages: Punjabi, Hindi and English. This sits well with the educated, urban and English-speaking people of Chandigarh. She and her husband Anupam Kher are big champions of Modi. This helped her beat contenders within the party to get nominated as the Lok Sabha candidate. The two are also active on social media. Kher’s combative nature, awareness of the city’s problems and her hands-on approach work for her. Her film career and celebrity status make Chandigarh a battle to watch out for.