Two BJP entertainers face choppy waters in Punjab

Two BJP entertainers face choppy waters in Punjab

Sidhu and Vinod Khanna, the sitting MPs from Amritsar and Gurdaspur constituencies respectively, are banking heavily on their star charisma to sail through the choppy electoral waters as their constituencies go to poll on May 13.

Gimmickery and filmi dialogues are thrown in ample measures in their campaigns as Sidhu and Khanna have had tough time convincing the electorate about their long absence from their constituencies.

So, Sidhu rides an elephant while going to file his nominations and Khanna travels in local trains, signs autographs and mouths dialogues from his films. Bollywood stars like Salman Khan, Hema Malini, Poonam Dhillon and Akshaye Khanna were lined up to add glitter to their campaigns.

Khanna projects himself as a ‘hero’ who is out to bash up ‘villain’ Pratap Singh Bajwa, his Congress rival from Gurdaspur seat. “Maar diya jaye ya chhod diya jaaye”, (Should he be killed or spared) Khanna asks an audience about Bajwa, quoting a dialogue from one of his films.

Sidhu relies on his humour to engage the audiences in his constituency. “No if, no but, it’s only Jat”, he tells the audience quoting his dialogue in a recent Hindi film, ‘Jo Bole So Nihal’ where he essayed a cameo role.

Instant connection

He instantly connects with the urban and rural audience with his little jokes and also because of his role as a judge in ‘Laughter Challenge’ show on television.

Sidhu is vying for a third successive term as MP from Amritsar while Khanna has won three consecutive elections from Gurdaspur, though with ever-thinning margins.

Khanna’s victory streak started in 1998 with his victory over the five-time Congress MP, S S Bhinder whom he went on to defeat in the next two elections  – in 1999 with a margin of 1400 votes and in 2004 with a margin of 32,000 votes.

His great rival died a few years ago and Bajwa, a formidable minister in the Congress regime of Capt Amarinder Singh, is in fray against him.

Contesting for the first time, Sidhu had defeated the six-time Congress MP from Amritsar R L Bhatia by over one lakh votes in 2004. In February 2007 by-election he defeated Surinder Singla by over 77,000 votes.

His conviction in the case has been stayed by the apex court. This time Sidhu is faced with a tough Congress rival, O P Soni, a former Mayor of Amritsar and three-time MLA. Soni, who is contesting the parliamentary election for the first time, has the distinction of never losing a poll battle whether for municipal or Assembly elections.

It remains to be seen whether voters of Gurdaspur are convinced by the promises of their three-time MP this time !