People of Punjab are tired of giving chances to the Congress and the SAD for the last 44 years and now want the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to be in the saddle, says the party's chief ministerial face Bhagwant Mann. The 48-year-old Mann, who is contesting from the Dhuri Assembly segment, also says that mafia raj, unemployment, inflation, drug menace and farm distress are some of the major issues facing the state and his party will work to solve them.
Mann has been declared as the chief ministerial candidate of the AAP after the party in Punjab held a first of its kind 'Janta Chunegi Apna CM' drive last month. In the AAP survey to pick the party's chief ministerial candidate, 93 per cent of those who called or sent messages to a party number chose him. The comedian-turned-politician, who has a knack for connecting with the people with his repartee, is fighting from the Dhuri seat, which is one of the assembly constituencies of Sangrur Lok Sabha. Mann is a two-time MP from Sangrur parliamentary constituency.
With the AAP's CM candidate Mann being nominated from Dhuri, this assembly seat has shot into limelight. “People gave at least 25 years to the Congress and 19 years to the Badal family. These parties could not do anything in the last 44 years and they still want one more chance. People are tired of giving them chances but these parties are not tired of seeking the same,” says Mann. He says that people of Punjab want change and are keen to see the AAP form the next government because they know that the party has delivered in Delhi and will serve them here as well.
Accusing rival political outfits of being hand-in-glove to prevent the AAP from forming the next government in Punjab, he asserts that, "There will be a landslide victory for the AAP in the Punjab assembly polls". Taking a jibe at the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mann says, “Parkash Singh Badal has to fight elections at the age of 94-year-old because his son (Sukhbir Badal) has not been accepted by people.” He says the SAD patriarch will seek votes by saying for the third time that it is his last election.
Former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh had in 2017 said it was his last election and now he is again contesting. “These leaders play with the emotions of the people,” says Mann as he targets Badal and Amarinder Singh. On Congress candidate Dalvir Singh Goldy's charge that Mann is not seen in Dhuri constituency, the AAP leader trashes it as “baseless”, and says he has been frequently visiting Dhuri villages. He says he will soon share details regarding his work as an MP and funds spent in Dhuri constituency.
“Dhuri is my own place and it will be converted into a model constituency,” he told PTI. A few days ago when Mann visited Dhuri for filing nomination papers, he had said he expects that people of this constituency will ensure his victory with the biggest margin in the state. The AAP's CM face also promises to weed out sand, transport and liquor mafia and also to keep a check on leakage of revenue for generating resources if his party is voted to power.
Mann also ridicules Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu over his Punjab model, and says he first should get it approved from his own party. “Sidhu Sahab has been in power for 14 years, first 10 years with SAD-BJP and then four-and-a-half years with the Congress. In these years, the Punjab model could not be implemented,” he says. Mann also talks about a policy for the agriculture sector, revival of cooperative societies, encouraging farmers to grow crops like maize, ensuring their marketing and checking underground water depletion. “Businessmen, who left the state and shifted to Baddi (Himachal Pradesh) and Madhya Pradesh, have to be brought back by giving them a business-friendly atmosphere for boosting industry here. It will lead to generation of more employment opportunities in the state,” he adds.
"When enough employment opportunities will be there, the youth will not move out to other countries," he says. On the state's ballooning debt, Mann slams the previous governments for burdening the state with Rs 3 lakh crore of debt burden. The Congress has fielded sitting MLA Goldy while the Shiromani Akali Dal has nominated former Sangrur legislator Parkash Chand Garg from the Dhuri seat. Goldy was elected MLA in 2017 after he defeated the AAP candidate Jasvir Singh by a margin of 2,811 votes.
With PTI Inputs