April 26, 2014 12:58:57 pm
Locked in a high-stake fight against sitting MP and state Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa, actor-turned-politician Vinod Khanna is pulling out all stops to wrest this Lok Sabha seat by marketing his clout with Narendra Modi and dangling the carrot of a special package for the border district.
The 68-year-old Khanna, who has appeared in over 140 films, including ‘Haath ki Safai’, ‘Hera Pheri’ and ‘Muqaddar
Ka Sikander’, dismisses talk of anti-incumbency against the ruling SAD-BJP and criticises Congress’ Bajwa, claiming he was
Khanna, who has represented this constituency thrice (1998, 1999 and 2004), was defeated by Bajwa in 2009.
Stating that Modi is the one “superstar” the entire nation is looking forward to, Khanna, in an interview to PTI, said, “Everybody is riding the Modi wave. There is no question about that.”
He appears quite confident that the over 13 lakh electors in this seat will reward him for development works undertaken during his previous stints as MP here.
Charging that the present condition of this constituency was akin to a “patient” due to lack of proper development, Khanna says Gurdaspur needs to be “injected with the medicine of development” as soon as possible.
Accusing Bajwa of having remained absent from Gurdaspur Lok Sabha constituency during his stint as MP, Khanna alleges that the state congress leader failed to bring a single development project to Gurdaspur.
“He (Bajwa) has not done a single project here, not even a small bridge. Where he has spent the MP funds nobody knows,” Khanna alleged and claimed that he got three bridges built here apart from getting a Rs 350 crore package for the revival of Dhariwal mill.
Khanna, who appears to be still smarting from his defeat to Bajwa by 8,300 votes, is livid at the Congress candidate
for labelling him “Mumbai Ka Babu”.
“I am Mumbai Ka Babu but he (Bajwa) has not shown his face here in the last five years. I come every month and I own a house in Pathankot,” Khanna says.
“He (Bajwa) has not given a single penny to any village or ward (in Gurdaspur). Where he has given money (MP funds) is
a big question mark,” he adds.
Promising that he would get the goodies, Khanna, who had donned the hat of Union Minister for Culture and Tourism in
2002, says, “We will get special package from Modi-ji. I can guarantee you that. Once we get a special package, industry
will come to border districts (including Gurdaspur) only and create employment here.
“Then I need to revive the roads and build world-class highways, get approval for more trains with connectivity to
key centres in the state and other parts of the country,” he adds.
The BJP candidate, who does not find Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Sucha Singh Chhotepur to be a strong candidate, is
hoping to get support from his “rivals within the party”.
“My losing the 2009 election was due to factors within the party. There was no anti-incumbency, in fact, due to
delimitation, new areas were added to the constituency and our strongholds went out of the constituency area,” he opines.
Sharing details about his agenda for Gurdaspur, Khanna says he wants to promote the site as a favourite tourist
destination in the country by developing key areas like Dera Baba Nanak and Baath Sahib Gurdwara. He would also introduce
adventure sports, he added.
“My aim is to make this region a tourism hub with a focus on adventure and spiritual tourism. I also want to ensure better health facilities so that people don’t have to rush to other cities for specialised treatments,” says Khanna, who became a disciple of Osho in the late 1970s.
Upbeat after getting good response during campaigning, Khanna obliges fans by mouthing famous dialogues from his
“I do not think there is an anti incumbency (against SAD-BJP alliance). (Parkash Singh) Badal sahib has done so much for poor with welfare schemes across the state,” he says.
Asked about AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal staging a good number of roadshows in several places in Punjab, Khanna says,
“I do not deny AAP started off very well in Delhi… So much of media attention was given to Kejriwal. (But) everybody
knows he was a failure in Delhi.
“Most of the AAP people are not competent to run a government. They have no experience. I do not think he (AAP
candidate Chhotepur) has any chance in these polls,” he adds.
Khanna expressed hope that all the 13 seats in Punjab will be won by the BJP-SAD combine. Of the 13 Lok Sabha seats, at present Congress has eight MPs, SAD four and its alliance partner BJP one. Punjab will go to the polls in a single phase on April 30.
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