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The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today announced retired Major General Suresh Khajuria as its candidate from the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat where a bypoll is scheduled next month. The bypoll was necessitated by the death of actor and BJP leader Vinod Khanna, who was the sitting MP. The decision to field 64-year-old Khajuria was taken after consultations with the Gurdaspur unit of the party and the Majha region leaders and volunteers, AAP leader Sukhpal Khaira said in Jalandhar. Khaira, who is the Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, said that Khajuria is an old party volunteer and is a local resident of Pathankot which falls within the Gurdaspur seat. Khajuria hails from Bungal village in Pathankot. He has served two tenures as Brigade and Division Commander in Punjab during his 37 years of service. Khaira, who was flanked by Khajuria and AAP state unit chief Bhagwant Mann, said that while the Congress and the BJP were planning to bring in "parachute" candidates, his party has fielded a local candidate with a clean image. He lashed out at Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh alleging failure to deliver on promises made during the assembly polls. Khaira claimed that the situation has not improved under the present regime as farmers were still committing suicides. The Gurdaspur bypoll has been scheduled for October 11 and results will be declared on October 15. The Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat has been a stronghold of the BJP so far.
Actor- turned-politician Khanna, who passed away in April this year, won the seat four times. After joining the BJP in 1997, Khanna was fielded from the Gurdaspur parliamentary seat in 1998. He defeated Congress candidate and five-time MP Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder and repeated his performance in the 1999 and 2004 Lok Sabha polls. The actor-turned-politician tasted defeat in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections when he was trounced by Congress candidate Partap Singh Bajwa. In 2014, however, Khanna avenged his defeat by trouncing Bajwa by over 1.30 lakh votes.
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