Three-time MP Vinod Khanna seeks an encore

May 10th, 2009 - 12:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Alkesh Sharma
Gurdaspur (Punjab), May 10 (IANS) Bollywood veteran Vinod Khanna is seeking a fourth term in parliament from Gurdaspur in Punjab even as he fights the tag of an ‘outsider’ and ‘absentee MP’. Critics say the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate stays in Mumbai and New Delhi most of the time, rarely visiting Gurdaspur.

Khanna first won from here in 1998 and went on to win again in 1999 and 2004. But his main opponent, from the Congress party, is raising all these points again.

Political observers feel former Punjab public works department minister Partap Singh Bajwa is indeed a formidable opponent.

Bajwa, a Congress legislator from the Kahnuwan assembly constituency, told IANS: “Vinod Khanna won the last elections on the basis of his star image that is fading now. He has realised he is going to lose. That is why he is bringing other big stars for campaigning.”

Bajwa added: “I have no qualm in saying that he is an outsider as he does not even have his own house in his constituency.”

Khanna has had actor son Akshay and others from the film fraternity like Salman Khan campaign for him.

Bajwa said: “We also had offers from big stars who want to come here but we do not want to rely on such gimmicks. We have worked relentlessly in our constituency; so we are determined to win the elections on the basis of our performance here.”

“Who says I am an outsider?” Khanna countered. “My heart and soul are with the people of my constituency and I know that they also love me a lot. The opposition is just trying to misguide the innocent people of Gurdaspur.

“I have been frequently visiting Gurdaspur and I am always available for my people when they need me. I have made it a point to visit my constituency at least 40 times in a year,” Khanna said.

He added that he now plans to settle in his constituency and that is why he bought five acres of land near Pathankot to build a house.

“Earlier my children (with second wife Kavita) were in school and I had to stay with them. Now they have become self-reliant. They are now studying in universities; so I can stay here with a free mind,” Khanna said.

Gurdaspur, which borders Pakistan, is around 250 km from Chandigarh.

Khanna, who joined the BJP in 1997, ousted three-times Lok Sabha MP Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder the next year. He became union minister of state for culture and tourism in July 2002 and was moved in January 2003 to the ministry of external affairs.

Khanna said: “I have done many things and initiated various projects to change the face of Gurdaspur. I also contributed money from my pocket for many poor patients here.”

(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at alkesh.s@ians.in)

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