Punjab Assembly Elections 2022 | AAP’s CM face will be Bhagwant Mann

He is selected on the basis of the people’s opinion, says Arvind Kejriwal. Mock tele-poll, says SAD

January 18, 2022 01:01 pm | Updated 08:16 pm IST - CHANDIGARH

AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal officially announced Bhagwant Mann’s name as the party’s chief ministerial candidate at an event in Mohali. File

AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal officially announced Bhagwant Mann’s name as the party’s chief ministerial candidate at an event in Mohali. File

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Tuesday announced that party’s Punjab president and Lok Sabha MP Bhagwant Mann would be its chief ministerial candidate in the Assembly election , with national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal saying his selection was based on “public opinion” through telephone (cell) gathered votes.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) accused the AAP of staging a “mock tele-poll’ and termed it a “phony fraud and puppet show”.

“We urged the people of Punjab to choose the Chief Minister and the party had released a cell phone number on which people could share their choice. As many as 21,59,437 people had expressed their opinion and 93.3% people preferred Bhagwant Mann. Navjot Singh Sidhu came out as the second choice with 3.6% votes,” he said at an event in Mohali.

After the announcement, Mr. Mann said Punjab knows how to come out of difficult situations and there’s no reason for the people to lose hope. “The AAP’s agenda is to eradicate drugs from Punjab and provide employment and quality education to our youth and I’ll celebrate only after achieving all these goals,” he said.

Also read | Video of Congress Twitter handle drops a hint of party’s CM choice

Mr. Mann, a two-time Lok Sabha MP, had been a famous comedian artiste in Punjab. He stepped into mainstream politics in 2011 by joining the Punjab People’s Party. He left the PPP in 2014, joined the AAP and contested the parliamentary elections from Sangrur from where he had won for the first time. In 2019, he again won from the constituency and became the only candidate from Punjab to bag a seat for his party. This helped in his growing influence and stature in the party.

Mr. Mann (48) had his share of controversies as well. In 2016, as an MP, he shot a video in the Parliament complex and put it on the social media for which he later apologised. He has been often under attack by his opponents for being “alcoholic”. He was accused of coming to public events drunk. Suspended AAP MP Harinder Khalsa even complained to then Speaker Sumitra Mahajan about Mr. Mann coming to Parliament under the influence of alcohol. At an AAP event in 2019, Mr. Mann took a vow to never drink again.

Mr. Mann said he has joined politics only to bring back the prosperity and glory of Punjab. “At every platform, from road to Parliament, I have raised my voice for Punjab and for its people and I’ll continue to do the same. On becoming the Chief Minister, I’ll use this power invested in me by the people to work for the people,” he said.

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the AAP had fallen back on compromised candidate Bhagwant Mann as no one was ready to lead it in Punjab.

Terming the nomination as a “stage-managed non-event”, he said Mr. Kejriwal never wanted to make Mr. Mann the face of the party.

“He has been saying so at Mann’s face while asserting that the party was looking for a capable candidate. It is also a fact that the AAP sounded off a number of prospective candidates but each and every one of them has refused to lead the party. This is why the responsibility has been thrust on Bhagwant after a make-believe survey.”

Harcharan Bains, principal adviser to the SAD president, said the AAP has elected its first “phoney CM face”, but now, let Punjab elect its real Chief Minister. He said Mr. Kejriwal, had always wanted to remote-control Punjabis from Delhi via a handset, and one must say this phone idea was brilliant, but only for controlling the AAP’s internal circus.

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