Veteran actor and former BJP lawmaker Dharmendra on Sunday said he would not have allowed his son Sunny Deol to contest the national elections from Punjab's Gurdaspur had he known who his rival is - Congress's Sunil Jakhar, the sitting lawmaker from the constituency.
"Balram Jakhar was like my brother. Had I known his son Sunil Jakhar was contesting from Gurdaspur, I would have not allowed Sunny (to contest against him)," the 83-year-old told news agency ANI.
Sunny Deol, 62, was declared the BJP candidate from Gurdaspur, days after he joined the party last month. He is the third member of the family to take a plunge into politics. Hema Malini, Sunny Deol's stepmother, is fighting for re-election from Uttar Pradesh's Mathura.
Dharmendra, who was in Gurdaspur to campaign for his son, said that his son, a political novice, "cannot debate" with an experienced politician like Sunil Jakhar. "Sunny cannot debate with him as he (Sunil) is an experienced politician and even his father was a very experienced politician, but we come from the film industry. Moreover, we are not here to debate but to listen to the plight of people as we love this land," he said.
Last week, while campaigning in Gurdaspur, Sunny Deol had openly acknowledges that he is new in this business. "I do not know much about issues like Balakot strikes or India's relations with Pakistan. I am here to serve people; if I win maybe I will have an opinion, right now I don't," he admitted.
Dharmendra on Sunday said also said he got "emotional" when Sunny Deol held his first roadshow in Gurdaspur after filing his nomination. "I was watching the roadshow from Mumbai and there was a big crowd. I got emotional. I know people love us but I was surprised by seeing so much love," he said.
Punjab votes on May 19 in the last phase of national elections.
The fight between Sunny Deol and Sunil Jakhar will be one of the closely-watched contests.
Gurdaspur has traditionally been a BJP stronghold. Actor-turned-politician Vinod Khanna won the parliamentary seat in 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2014. Congress's Sunil Jakhar won the seat in 2017 by-elections after his death.