The saffron party wants Sunny Deol’s ‘Dhai Kilo Ka Haath’ to beat the “hand” in Punjab. Already in talks with the Bollywood actress Poonam Dhillon and Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh for Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) is considering another Bollywood superstar for Gurdaspur to give a strong fight to its rivals.
The party is trying to become major partner in the Punjab Politics, currently Bjp had just about one protagonist in the Lok Sabha, and three in Vidhan Sabha.
Gurdaspur has always been the Congress’ citadel, winning 11 elections out of 12 till 1996, including a by-poll. It was only in 1998, when the BJP decided to field Bollywood’s yesteryear’s superstar Vinod Khanna, who broke the Congress’ winning spree.
Khanna scored a hat-trick by winning three consecutive elections in 1998, 1999, and 2004. His victory campaign was halted by the Congress’ Partap Singh Bajwa in 2009 elections, which Khanna revenged in 2014 polls.
But following Khanna’s death due to prolonged illness, the Congress managed to win the seat during 2017 by-election. Congress’ Sunil Jakhar had defeated Mumbai-based businessman-cum-politician Swaran Salaria, whom the BJP fielded as Khanna’s replacement while ignoring his widow, Kavita Khanna’s claim for the party ticket.
After failed attempts to persuade Khanna’s actor son, Akshey Khanna, to contest from Gurdaspur who had campaigned for his father during 2009 and 2004 elections, the BJP is considering to take on board another superstar.
However, Kavita Khanna is still a frontrunner for the ticket, as the party leaders believed that she may succeed in getting sympathy votes. Among other claimants for the party’s ticket from Gurdaspur include BJP’s former state president Ashwani Sharma, former Minister Master Mohan Lal, and MLA Dinesh Babbu are also in the race.
“BJP wanted to field a strong candidate against sitting MP Jakhar. Many leaders have staked their claims for the ticket, but there is a view that the party’s candidate from Gurdaspur should match up to Vinod Khanna’s stature,” a senior BJP leader told The Pioneer, while confirming the development saying that nothing is final as of now.
“Sunny Deol’s name has just been discussed. There’s nothing final. We have got to know that party leaders in Maharashtra have been asked to get in touch with him and convince him as his father has been MP on BJP ticket from Bikaner in Rajasthan,” said the leader.
Notably, Sunny Deol’s father and yesteryears’ superstar Dharmendra had been BJP MP from Bikaner, while Dharmendra’s wife and Sunny’s step-mother, actress Hema Malini is sitting BJP MP from Mathura.
It is believed that the saffron party is apprehending a wipe out from the state considering its negligible presence in the state as of now. And by giving a star power to its election campaign, the party is making an apparent attempt to make a comeback in the state.
At the time when the nation was swept by Modi wave in 2014 polls, BJP won two seats in Punjab, out of the total three it contested in alliance with the SAD. However, the number came down to just one after it lost 2017 by-election.
During 2017 elections, the party could secure just three seats, out of total 23 it contests in alliance with SAD registering a dip of 12 percent votes in its share in previous assembly elections.