Veteran actor and former BJP leader Dharmendra has said that he would not have allowed his son Sunny Deol to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Gurdaspur in Punjab had he known Deol was up against Congress MP Sunil Jakhar, The Indian Express reported.

“I learnt about it only after reaching Gurdaspur that Sunny is contesting against Sunil Jakhar, Balram Jakhar, with whom I had great relations,” Dharmendra said on Saturday, adding that the Congress candidate is like his son. However, the veteran actor added that nothing could be changed as the electoral contest was already under way. Balram Jakhar was a former Lok Sabha speaker.

In 2004, Dharmendra had refused to contest the Lok Sabha elections against Balram Jakhar from Churu in Rajasthan. That year he won the polls from Bikaner.

Dharmendra, who is in Gurdaspur to campaign for his son, said he would not deliver political speeches as he was no longer a politician. The actor said he wants to understand the problems faced by people, and not engage in debates, IANS reported.

“Sunny cannot debate,” Dharmendra said, responding to Sunil Jakhar’s challenge to Deol to debate on matters that concern local people. “Sunil has experience [of politics] and his father was also a politician. We are from the film industry.”

Sunil Jakhar is the incumbent parliamentarian from Gurdaspur. He won the seat in the 2017 bye-elections after the death of actor-turned-politician Vinod Khanna. The constituency is a BJP stronghold, and was first won by Khanna in 1998.

Polling will be held in Gurdaspur on May 19 in the seventh and last phase of the elections. Results for all seven phases will be declared on May 23.