Vinod Khanna’s widow ups the ante to claim BJP ticket in Gurdaspur bypoll | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Vinod Khanna’s widow ups the ante to claim BJP ticket in Gurdaspur bypoll

Amid intense lobbying by state BJP leaders to get the party ticket for the bypoll, Kavita, who lives in Mumbai, has been regularly visiting the constituency and meeting people and party workers.

punjab Updated: Jul 15, 2017 08:29 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Kavita Khanna (centre) during a sanitation drive in Pathankot in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha segment.
Kavita Khanna (centre) during a sanitation drive in Pathankot in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha segment.(Photo Courtesy: Facebook)

With bypolls to the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha constituency expected to be announced soon, late BJP MP and Bollywood actor Vinod Khanna’s widow Kavita Khanna has upped the ante to stake her claim on the seat represented by her husband four times.

Amid intense lobbying by state BJP leaders to get the party ticket for the bypoll, Kavita, who lives in Mumbai, has been regularly visiting the constituency after Khanna’s death in April this year and meeting people of the constituency and BJP workers.

Vinod Khanna was elected from Gudaspur in 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2014. In 2014, he defeated Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa by a margin of 1.46 lakh votes.

A graduate from London School of Economics, Kavita has taken the route of social service to connect with the people.

“The people of this region are not new to me. My husband has represented this segment four times and we have a house in Pathankot as well. My husband had family ties with the constituents and the people of this area love us,” Kavita told HT.

WANT TO CONTEST’

She admitted that she has a keen desire to represent the people of Gurdaspur, but said the decision as to who will contest the seat will be taken by the party high command.

“Yes, I would be fortunate if I get a chance to represent my husband’s constituency. However, I cannot say such things to the party. The senior leadership has to take the call and I would abide the party decision,” she said.

Local BJP leaders said Kavita is currently visiting villages and towns in the constituency taking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ to the grassroot level. She is spreading awareness over how to treat solid waste in the villages where there are no waste treatment plants.

‘ACCESS TO SHAH’

What gives Kavita an added advantage to become BJP’s choice for the bypoll is her ‘Gujarati connection’. Gujarat is her mother’s place and BJP sources say Kavita has direct access to BJP national chief Amit Shah’s office.

“I have seen Kavita bringing Gujarati food for Modi, whenever he used to visit Punjab before becoming PM. So Gujarat connection is an advantage for her,” a top party leader said.

However, Kavita also has many opponents in the BJP, who often challenge her “non-Punjabi” background and “high-profile style” to stake their claims.

The other leaders who are eying the ticket include former state party president Ashwani Sharma and former Rajya Sabha member Avinash Rai Khanna.

State BJP chief Vijay Sampla, when contacted, said the party high command is currently preoccupied with the Presidential polls and is expected to take a call over the party candidate after announcement of the bypoll.

Meanwhile, a hunt has started in the Congress circles as well to find a suitable candidate for the bypoll. In a routine meeting of Congress MLAs from Gurdaspur district with chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday, this issue was also discussed, sources said.