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Posted at: Apr 24, 2019, 7:09 AM; last updated: Apr 24, 2019, 11:31 AM (IST)

BJP drops Sampla, chooses Sunny Deol from Gurdaspur

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 23

The BJP today fielded actor Sunny Deol, aka Ajay Singh Deol, from Gurdaspur, repeated sitting MP Kirron Kher from Chandigarh and dropped incumbent from the Hoshiarpur reserved constituency Vijay Sampla in favour of Punjab MLA Som Parkash. 

A former IAS officer, Som Parkash represents Phagwara in the Assembly. Sampla, who won from Hoshiarpur in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections drawing 13,000 more votes than his closest rival from Congress, had been facing stiff opposition from within.

Meanwhile, Punjabi singer Hans Raj Hans has been fielded by the BJP from the North-West Delhi reserved constituency. His name was announced on the last date of filing nominations today amid much drama involving a very miffed sitting MP Udit Raj, who first removed ‘chowkidar’ from his Twitter account but later put it back.

Earlier in the day, Sunny Deol was welcomed into the BJP by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who talked about his nationalist image in movies like ‘Border’, which obviously the party hopes to encash in the border constituency.

Deol said: “The way my papa (film actor Dharmendra) connected with Atalji (former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee), I have decided to join Modiji. We need Modiji to lead our country for another five years. Whatever I can do for this family (BJP), I will do it... I won’t talk, I will show you through my work.”

In 2014, Gurdaspur was represented by popular actor-politician Vinod Khanna, who passed away in 2017. In the byelection later that year, the party’s Swaran Salaria failed to retain it, losing badly to Congress’ Sunil Jakhar.

The BJP was looking for a strong candidate to re-create the connect Khanna had with Gurdaspur voters all these years. In those terms, Deol, whose father Dharmendra belongs to Sahnewal in Punjab, fits the bill perfectly. 

In the words of Defence Minister Sitharaman, “The moment I got to know that he is joining the party, I related to the film ‘Border’ and the feeling of nationalism and patriotism that was so beautifully evoked through the film.”

Dharmendra had also contested on a BJP ticket from Bikaner in Rajasthan in 2004, though he rarely attended Parliament. His stepmother Hema Malini, the sitting BJP MP from Mathura, is in comparison a more active member of the party. Deol is up against incumbent Sunil Jakhar and AAP’s Peter Masih in Gurdaspur. 

Kirron Kher, meanwhile. will contest against senior Congress leader Pawan Kumar Bansal and AAP’s Harmohan Dhawan. Both Punjab and Chandigarh will vote in the last phase of elections on May 19.

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