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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Star pull versus experience


Star pull versus experience

Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, May 17

In Gurdaspur, battle lines are drawn between popular actor Sunny Deol and ‘son of the soil’ Sunil Jakhar in Gurdaspur. The 15-lakh strong electorate of this border constituency will have to choose between Deol’s charisma and Jakhar’s political acumen.

Deol’s campaign, with an aura of glamour, was remote-controlled by the BJP in New Delhi. His core team was overcrowded with Mumbai-based film directors and producers. By the time this team began to come to grips with the political issues, D-day was at the doorstep. Jakhar’s campaigning had substance, Deol’s style.

The BJP had placed a chartered plane at the actor’s disposal while Jakhar zig-zagged the constituency in a car and at times on foot. In Dera Baba Nanak, he walked nearly 3 km to pacify a farmer who had complaints against his commission agent. Deol was not allowed to speak much by his handlers. He waded his way through crowds waving and selling his Dhai kilo ka haath dialogue which towards the fag-end became monotonous. 

Jakhar spoke directly to the voters at public meetings and informed them about the developmental works he had initiated in his 18-month tenure as MP— the two medical colleges he got sanctioned from the state government, enhancing the crushing capacity of the two cooperative sugar mills in Gurdaspur district, elevation of the 3.5-km stretch of narrow gauge track in Pathankot city’s limits, opening a degree college in Kalanaur, revival of the Qadian-Beas rail link and efforts he is making to establish a job-generating rail wheel factory in Kalanaur. In contrast, Deol had nothing to discuss with the electorate. 

Neither of the two contenders engaged in hitting below the belt. “This was on expected lines because while Jakhar is articulate, Deol is reticent,” remarked a Congress MLA. The actor’s father, Dharmendra, however regularly targeted Jakhar, who preferred to remain silent.

Going by the crowd support, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s roadshow in Pathankot and Navjot Singh Sidhu’s rally in Gurdaspur put both the candidates on an equal footing. 

The consensus here is that man from Tinsel town is facing a formidable challenge from the MP.

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