Lok Sabha elections 2019: BJP cadre thrust to augment Sunny’s star appeal
Even as the BJP is upbeat over ticket aspirants Kavita Khanna and Swaran Salaria’s announcement to campaign for BJP’s Gurdaspur candidate actor Sunny Deol, the party also has the backup of formidable organisational campaign to augment his star appeal.
Sunny will file his nomination papers in the company of his father Dharmendra and brother Bobby Deol on Monday.
Deol family has already sent a team of a few professionals to work out a campaign strategy. Actor Deep Sidhu, who is said to be close to the Deol family, is coordinating between the family and the Punjab unit of the BJP.
The saffron party is confident that Sunny’s star appeal will surely make a “decisive tilt” in its favour, still it doesn’t want to leave any stone unturned and has decided to contest the seat with its tested strategy of mobilising the workers at the booth level.
The party, it is learnt, has taken lessons from the defeat of its ‘heavyweight and high-profile’ leader Arun Jaitley, now finance minister, who lost the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Amritsar despite the ‘personality centric campaign’. This time, the party high-command has decided to monitor the campaign through former state BJP chief Kamal Sharma, who has been entrusted the task to look after actor’s campaign and strategise it.
The biggest worry for the party, insiders say, is that out of nine assembly seats, the alliance partner SAD and the BJP have only one MLA each whereas rest seven seats are with Congress. The BJP has MLA from Sujanpur whereas Batala seat is with SAD. The BJP, however, is confident of performing well in Pathankot, Sujanpur, Bhoa and Dinanagar assembly segments, which the party contest.
The biggest challenge for the party, its strategists say, is performance in five segments — Dera Baba Nanak, Fatehgarh Churian, Qadian, Gurdaspur and Batala — contested by SAD. Of the 1.92 lakh victory margin of Congress’s Sunil Jakhar in the 2017 Lok Sabha by-poll, a lead of 1.58 lakh had come from these five segments.
Things have not improved much for the SAD in Dera Baba Nanak from where Jakhar had secured a lead of 44,074 votes.
Akali Dal’s face in the segment and its former district president, Sucha Singh Langah, was expelled from the party and also excommunicated from Sikhism after a rape case was registered against. Though, Langah was acquitted by the court, he stands expelled from the party.
“Sunny’s stardom may not work alone as the Congress MLAs in the Lok Sabha segment are powerful. We know it well that BJP’s real problems are going to be the segments being contested by the SAD. To ensure victory, we need a well-oiled campaign to back the star appeal of Sunny and the party high-command knows it very well,” a senior BJP functionary said.
State BJP chief Shwait Malik said the party was not banking upon the celebrity status only. “We have won the seat many times earlier as well and Sunny will get a full organisational back-up,” he said.