CHANDIGARH: In Punjab’s Gurdaspur, its actor-turned-politician Sunny Deol’s star power versus Congress state president Sunil Jakhar’s grassroots appeal. In the consequent shrill politicking the issues on the ground and plaguing the people of the constituency have not found a mention by any of the parties.
While Deol is busy with roadshows, Jakhar is concentrating on ‘Nukad’ meetings. Out of the nine assembly seats in this Lok Sabha constituency, seven are with the Congress and only two with the SAD-BJP alliance. It’s a tall order for Jakhar to not only hold on to these seats but also increase the winning margin.
The assembly segments of Dera Baba Nanak and Fatehgarh Churian have witnessed record voting in two of the last three parliamentary elections.
The electorate in both these assembly segments is capable of changing the direction of these elections.
One of the major issues in this constituency is the lack of employment opportunities. Not much effort has been made by politicians to revive industry in Batala town, known for its iron foundries, which closed down decades ago, and the world famous woollen mills at Dhariwal on the verge of closing down.
The locals are of the opinion that Vinod Khanna was class apart and had done a lot for the area when he was the MP and a minister. They are, however, sceptical of Sunny Deol. The infighting within the saffron party and the issues of demonetisation and GST can go against Deol.
But his star power in films such as Border and Ghayal is attracting the crowds in the border villages.
On the other hand, Jakhar has the image of a serious politician and talks about bridges, medial collage and army schools in rural areas. The issue of the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib can also go in favour of the party.
Both are eyeing Hindu and Sikh (46.74% and 43.64% respectively) voters on this seat.