By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh, March 17 (IANS) The quintessential 'Mummyji' of Bollywood movies is donning her motherly avatar as she has begun her over two-month long electoral campaign to retain the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat.
Having been elected from here in the 2014 general election by a margin of nearly 70,000 votes and defeating four-time Member of Parliament (MP) and former Union Railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, actor-turned-politician Kirron Kher did well for her first political outing as the BJP candidate.
Hailing from Chandigarh itself, the 63-year-old Kirron not only faces a tough challenge from the Congress but also from within the local unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Chandigarh BJP President Sanjay Tandon and former MP from the Union Territory, Satya Pal Jain, are breathing down her neck as claimants for the BJP ticket. Both were ticket aspirants last time also but Kirron managed to beat them down.
Taking a cue from the popular TV chat show 'Cofee with Karan' (of director Karan Johar), in whose final episode she came as a jury member, Kirron has launched her own localised version in Chandigarh with '#CofeeWithKirron'.
"#NamoAgain is the future of India. So is this lovely kid. And all such sweethearts. When you come for #CoffeeWithKirron, don't leave your kids behind 🙂 #MyCityMyPeople," Kirron's Twitter handle states as she banks on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and her own celebrity status to impress voters.
"None of the local top leaders have so far been seen campaigning with her. Till the ticket is decided, no one is ready to project her as the candidate even though she is the sitting MP," a BJP insider in the city told IANS. Kher is campaigning at her own level - meeting advocates, industrialists, housewives, youth, children, businessmen and several others.
"Her star status definitely gives her an edge but that might not essentially convert into votes. Many people just come to see her and get selfies clicked," Anjali, a homemaker who attended one of Kher's events, told IANS.
Besides the city's sectors, Kher will have to focus specially on colonies and rehabilitation houses where a big chunk of city voters live in the 114-square km Union Territory.
"#Bazurgon ke #pyar aur #aashirwaad se badi koi jeet nahi hoti. #MomentOfTheDay with #MyCityMyPeople," Kher tweeted recently.
She is posting photos with local residents, especially elderly voters and even with children to drive home the family-type feeling. There are nearly 84,000 elderly voters in the city.
Tandon, whose group does not get along with Kher politically, is holding his own 'Chai Pe Charcha' at different venues.
Both leaders are not seen at each other's functions. Kher claims that she has done a lot of things for Chandigarh in the last nearly five years. These include the recently sanctioned flyover from Tribune Chowk to Zirakpur to ease traffic, allowing need-based changes in housing board flats and conversion of residential leasehold properties to freehold, among other things.
The nearly 6.2 lakh electorate of Chandigarh (population of over 11 lakh) will decide its next MP on May 18. Approximately 40,000 new voters have been added since the 2014 elections.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at email@example.com)