Actor-turned-Bharatiya Janata Party nominee Kirron Kher on Wednesday visited former MP Harmohan Dhawan at the latter's residence in Chandigarh apparently to seek support for her candidature, but failed to win over the sulking leader.
Kher's nomination from the Chandigarh Lok Sabha segment had stock resentment among some local BJP leaders, prominent among them are Dhawan, party district unit president Sanjay Tandon and two-time former MP Satya Pal Jain.
Though Tandon and Jain have fallen in line after initial resentment, Dhawan is yet to come out in support of Kher whom a section of leaders and workers has branded as "outsider".
Despite opposition from a section of the party, Kher who faces Pawan Bansal of Congress and Gul Panag of Aam Aadmi Party at the hustings, continued to put up a brave face to get rid of the "outsider" tag.
Early in the day, Kher, along with Tandon and Jain, went to the city's Sector 9 residence of Dhawan to placate him.
However, Dhawan reportedly refused to accompany her in the campaign trail yet.
Asked about Dhawan's absence, the BJP candidate said, "He is unwell so we went to meet him at his residence... He got photographs clicked with us." She exuded confidence that Dhawan will also fall in line and support her nomination.
Dhawan, a former Janata Dal MP from the city and a former Union minister, however kept his cards close to his chest.
Asked about his future plan, he said he would decide his next course of action after a meeting with his supporters on Thursday.
Dhawan, who has considerable clout among the weaker sections of the society, switched over to the Om Parkash Chautala-led Indian National Lok Dal in 2004.
He contested the 2004 Lok Sabha polls unsuccessfully by getting only 17,762 votes and finishing behind sitting MP Pawan Kumar Bansal (Cong) and Jain (BJP).
Later, Dhawan joined the BJP and hoping for a party ticket this time.
Meanwhile, asked about resentment among local leaders over her nomination, Kher, "I felt sad that these leaders felt pain (after not getting BJP ticket)." Jain, who was accompanying Kher, quickly added, "We are with Kirron by heart... She is our sister... We will ensure her victory."
Tandon refuted reports that some district BJP presidents had resigned in protest against Kher's nomination. "No one is unhappy... No one has resigned in protest against Kher... I have not received any BJP leader's resignation," he asserted.
Kher rejected claims that she was an "outsider" who has been "paradropped". "I have not come from outside... My father Col (retd) T S Sandhu is a Jat Sikh of Majha region of Punjab," she said, "I have studied in Chandigarh...did my MA in English from Panjab University... I was a badminton player and had represented Chandigarh at state and national level."
"Uncle Milkha (Singh, legendary former athlete based in Chandigarh) use to encourage me and my sister when we played badminton," she said.
"I am not imported (by the BJP) from West Bengal, Karnal, Assam or Patiala...I belong to Chandigarh," she said. "I stay in Chandigarh almost 10 days a month as my father is settled here," she said, adding that "my heart is with Chandigarh."
Training her guns at four-time Congress MP Pawan Kumar Bansal, the actor-turned-politician said that "over the years Chandigarh had degenerated... Pollution levels have gone up...Sanitation and roads are in bad condition."
"Bansal remained an influential minister in the UPA government but did nothing for Chandigarh," she alleged.
"Either Bansal's mind was not focused on Chandigarh or the central government was busy in scams," she said.
Throwing her weight behind BJP prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi, she said that there were no power cut and water problem in Gujarat. What Chandigarh needs is good roads, underpasses to ease traffic congestions, affordable education, regular water supply, she said.
"I will bring Modi to Chandigarh...My first priority will be to get problems of the people of Chandigarh resolved," she said, and added she would file her nomination tomorrow. She said Modi would address a rally in the city in her favour.
Asked whether she will be available to the people if she gets elected, Kher said, "My house is here I will be available to the people of the city."
Asked about her tweet terming Aam Aadmi Party's candidate Gul Panag as "just entertainment", she said, "Gul is a model and I am not a model."
Image: Actor-turned-Bharatiya Janata Party nominee Kirron Kher