Top contenders from Gurdaspur

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Gurdaspur
  • Updated: Apr 26, 2014 14:59 IST

Vinod Khanna, 67
he Bollywood star and minister of state for tourism and cultural affairs in the 1999-2004 NDA-govt won thrice from Gurdaspur, in 1998, 1999 and 2004. Lost to Congress candidate Partap Singh Bajwa in 2009 polls. Pipped businessman Swaran Salaria to get the BJP ticket this time.

Partap Singh Bajwa, 57
A graduate, Bajwa is currently the Punjab Congress chief and belongs to a family of politicians. His late father was a minister in the state government, while his wife, Charanjit Kaur Bajwa, is the MLA from Qadian, the home town of the Bajwa family. Also served as minister in the Beant Singh government, Harcharan Singh Brar government and then in Capt. Amarinder Singh government (2002-07).

Sucha Singh Chhotepur, 62
A graduate hailing from Chhotepur village in Gurdaspur district, he is perhaps the only Aam Aadmi Party candidate in Punjab who can be described as a politician. Elected MLA from Dhariwal constituency in 1985, he became a minister in the Barnala government. Also remained in the Akali faction led by Simranjit Singh Mann. In the 2002 assembly polls, he won as an Independent from Dhariwal after the SAD denied him the ticket. Joined the Congress in 2010 but left the party after being denied ticket in 2012 assembly polls.

Triangular contest

Though there are 13 candidates in the electoral fray, the contest will be triangular - between sitting MP and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Partap Singh Bajwa, three-time MP and Bollywood star Vinod Khanna of the BJP and former Punjab minister Sucha Singh Chhotepur of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

The Bollywood star, who dislodged the once-unbeatable and five-time MP of this constituency, late Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, is back on the dusty roads of the constituency, telling people how Bajwa ignored them in the past five years. He is trying to win back the electorate which had sent him to Parliament in 1998, 1999 and 2004.

Citing the two bridges he got built over the Ravi and another on the Beas, Khanna promises more development in the constituency, while his supporters woo the electorate with the promise that in an NDA government under Narendra Modi, the cine star could be made a minister. Khanna will be heavily dependent on Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders for seeing him through in rural areas as the contest in urban areas and the Hindu-dominated Pathankot district is expected to be close.

Bajwa was reluctant to contest initially but had no option when the Congress high command put its foot down. Having ignored the constituency, Bajwa is projecting himself as the chief minister in 2017 to win votes.

Bajwa does not have to contend only with the opposition but also with his own partymen, particularly Amarinder loyalists. However he has succeeded in winning back the support of some of all party workers and leaders from the constituency.

The third contender, Sucha Singh Chhotepur, who won Dhariwal Assembly seat (now renamed Qadian Assembly constituency) as an Independent in 2002 assembly polls,can't be ignored.Most of the silent votes including major chunk of votes of the youth and retired employees are likely to be cast in his favour.He has remained in the SAD and also in the Congress and has a support base, particularly in areas around Gurdaspur. He is likely to cut into both Congress and Akali votes.

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