Actor-turned-politician Sunny Deol is one of the stars fielded by the BJP in this election, and his star power has paid off. Deol, who is making his political debut, has cornered over 54 per cent of the votes polled in the Gurdaspur constituency so far. Then again, he is the third member of his family to enter politics, after his father Dharmendra and Hema Malini. Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, meanwhile, trails with 40.24 per cent vote share. Jakhar had won the seat in the 2017 bypolls, which was necessitated after the death of Vinod Khanna in April that year.
Deol, popular for his role in patriotic films like "Border", had played up the BJP's poll agenda of national security Iin the campaigning phase. He was also seen wooing the voters by holding aloft a handpump, recreating a scene from his hit film "Gadar: Ek Prem Katha", and at other times he mouthing popular dialogues from his films such as "Dhai kilo ka hath" and "Hindustan zindabad hai, zindabad rahega". In fact, earlier this month, Jakhar had accused him of having no understating of Punjab issues, going so far as to say "politics is a serious business and not a time pass activity", but the voters clearly feel differently.
Gurdaspur is one of the few constituencies in the state where the BJP has a lead. In most of the other seats, the Congress is currently leading. As per the India Today-Axis My India post-poll survey, Congress is likely to win 8-9 seats in Punjab, while the BJP alliance will be able to gain 3-5 seats. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is a major partner for the BJP.
Punjab was among the last states to vote in the Lok Sabha elections in the seventh and last phase on May 19. The state sends 13 Members of Parliament to the Lok Sabha. Polling for all the seats took place on May 19 and the voter turnout came close to 66 per cent, albeit lower than the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The 2019 poll outcome will also decide whether the SAD, which had faced a backlash over the desecration issue, will be able to make up for the lost ground. In the 2017 Assembly polls, the SAD was relegated to the third spot, bagging just 15 seats of the 117 assembly segments. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, while the SAD-BJP combine had won six seats, AAP and the Congress had bagged four and three seats, respectively.
With PTI inputs