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HindustanTimes Wed,24 Sep 2014

Relief for Vinod Khanna as BJP makes Salaria opt out of race

HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times  Pathankot/Gurdaspur, April 10, 2014
First Published: 08:54 IST(10/4/2014) | Last Updated: 08:56 IST(10/4/2014)

In a major relief to the BJP in Gurdaspur parliamentary constituency, the party on Wednesday managed to convince Swaran Salaria not to contest as an independent.

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Salaria had announced that he would contest as an independent after being refused the ticket.

Pressure put by senior leaders, including Shanta Kumar and Kamal Sharma, made Salaria change his mind. Salaria had staked his claim to the ticket for work done during the assembly elections of 2012 in which he was in charge of Sujanpur, Pathankot and Bhoa where BJP had won.

The BJP team of senior leaders was in touch with Salaria since his announcement and was able to convince him at his native village Chohana near Pathankot on Wednesday evening.

Since the time the party declared Vinod Khanna’s candidature, buzz about an annoyed Salaria contesting as an independent had alarmed the party owing to his influence among Rajputs.

As Salaria reached Pathankot on Tuesday and declared his intentions to file his papers, senior leaders got in touch with him and reached his village. The party reportedly warned him that he could lose the party posts in case he did not relent.

The suspense kept BJP leaders on tenterhooks the entire day on Wednesday. After Khanna filed his papers, all eyes were on Salaria. As he announced his decision not to contest, party leaders had a sigh of relief.

Salaria told HT that it was only for Narendra Modi that he had relented. “I want to see Modi as PM and that is why I have pulled out of the race,” he said.

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