Veteran actor Dharmendra on Saturday said that he wouldn’t have agreed to let actor-son Sunny Deol contest from Gurdaspur had he known that Sunil Jakhar was the Congress candidate from the constituency.
The BJP has fielded Deol, 59, from Gurdaspur, where Jakhar is seeking re-election. “I learnt about it only after reaching Gurdaspur that Sunny is contesting against Sunil, son of Balram Jakhar, with whom I had great relations,” the veteran actor said.
Dharmendra said Sunil Jakhar is like his son.
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Dharmendra said he had refused to contest against Balram Jakhar, a former Lok Sabha Speaker, from Churu in Rajasthan in 2004 Lok Sabha polls. Dharmendra had eventually contested from Bikaner on a BJP ticket, and had won.
“It is destiny that has brought us to Gurdaspur. After reaching here, I asked whether Balram Jakhar’s son is contesting against Sunny. I was told that he is the same person. Maybe I would have said no if I knew earlier that Sunil was contesting from here. But we are in the field now and nothing can be changed,” the actor told the media in Gurdaspur.
Stating that he didn’t even know the difference between an MLA and an MP, Dharmendra said, “Balram Jakhar gave me the first basic lessons in politics.” The actor said he had campaigned for Jakhar senior in Rajasthan. “Now we are in Gurdaspur and we will fight the battle assigned to us. I will ensure to keep all the promises made during the campaign,” he added.
When pointed out that Sunil Jakhar has invited Deol for a debate with him on local issues, Dharmendra said, “Sunny cannot debate. Sunil has experience (of politics) and his father was also a politician. We are from the film industry. We have not come here to hold debates. We have come here to listen to the problems of people.”
Dharmendra, whose wife Hema Malini is the sitting BJP MP from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh and is seeking re-election, said his is not a family of politicians. “We are not politicians. There is politics in the film industry too for positions of number one and number two. But I never did politics even there, because we are not cunning people. We are emotional people.”
“I had told Sunny that politics is a very difficult thing but he told me he had already said ‘yes’ to contesting the election. I don’t know who made him say yes, but now that he has said yes, we will not run away from the battlefield,” he said.
Dharmendra said he got emotional to see people supporting Deol on his first roadshow, which he held after filling nomination papers for the Gurdaspur seat. “I was watching the roadshow from Mumbai and there was a big crowd. I got emotional. I know people love us but I was surprised by seeing so much love,” he said.
He said he had come here to do “heart-to-heart talk” with people: “I do not give speeches, I just talk to them. What is in a speech? I am not a politician.”
Dharmendra also said that before his name was finalised for Bikaner in 2004, he was asked by the BJP to contest from Patiala seat, but he had refused. “Ancestors of (Punjab CM) Captain Amarinder Singh were first to surrender the erstwhile princely state to Sardar Patel. I have great respect for his family. His wife (Preneet Kaur) is like my sister,” he said.
The BJP then asked him to contest from Sangrur, Punjab, but the Opposition candidate requested him to not enter the fray, the veteran actor said. He said he was then asked to contest against Balram Jakhar from Churu, which he again refused. “Only after that Bikaner was selected for me,” he said.
Amarinder, who was campaigning in Bhoa, took potshots at Sunny and said that the BJP must have “put pressure” on the actor to contest from Gurdaspur. “I had read in the newspapers that he owed several crores to banks. They (BJP) must have put pressure, telling him that he should contest from Gurdaspur or they will get an income tax raid conducted on him, which the BJP usually does (against political opponents),” the Punjab CM said.
He told the people, “You may get your pictures clicked with the actor. Then I expect you to bid him goodbye.”
Describing Jakhar as farsighted, he asked the crowd to ensure his victory. “Sunil has spent his entire life serving people and only such people work for the public. You will one day see him as the CM of Punjab,” Amarinder said.
Earlier, addressing another public meeting, Jakhar also took a dig at Deol, and said while he may be adept at singing and dancing and pulling handpumps out of the ground — as was shown in a film — the actor does not know anything about Gurdaspur, or the problems of its people.