Bhagwant Mann has been a famous personality in Punjab for quite some time now. To people outside Punjab, he is an AAP politician and a lawmaker. But for Punjabis, he is an actor with a career spanning nearly two decades. He used to be quite popular on Punjabi language channels with his satirical comedy shows like Jugnu Mast Mast.
But here is the real issue- it is one thing to be an artist and an entirely different thing to be a politician. An artist thrives an imagination, whereas a politician is rooted in reality. Now, Mann could be AAP’s Chief Ministerial candidate for Punjab polls, and this is as funny as it is tragic.
Mann- frontrunner as AAP’s CM Candidate
Five states are going to polls next month. And while political analysts are expected to remain focused on Uttar Pradesh, as the state is supposed to indicate national sentiment for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Punjab is just as important.
With the recent security lapse during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Punjab visit, and efforts by Pakistan and ISI to destabilize Punjab, the state cannot be taken lightly. For AAP, Punjab polls are even more important because the party wants to expand its footprint beyond Delhi.
But who will be projected as the party’s Chief Ministerial candidate? No official announcement has been made by the party regarding its CM face. However, Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann is the frontrunner.
In fact, AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal said, “I wanted to name Bhagwant Mann as the CM face, but he said let us seek the opinion of people.” The Delhi CM also said, “I told Bhagwant (Mann) that I should clear his name, but he gave me this idea that we should not choose the CM face in a closed- door meeting.”
He added, “My personal choice is not important… public choice is supreme. But I will reiterate that I myself will not be the CM face.”
The 117-member Punjab Legislative Assembly will go to polls on February 14 and Mann supporters reportedly expect the lawmaker to be picked as the CM face. It seems highly likely that Mann will be the AAP CM face.
Why it will be a funny event?
Bhagwant Mann has grown in popularity and along with his growing popularity, his reputation as an alcoholic also kept growing.
However, at an AAP rally in Barnala in 2019, Mann declared that in the “greater good of the masses”, he had decided to give up alcohol and that he had made the huge “sacrifice” in the “interest of Punjab.”
Due to alcoholism, the former comedian turned into a laughingstock. He has been at the centre of many controversies and goof-ups.
In January 2017, the lawmaker arrived at a party gathering in Bhatinda, visibly in a drunken condition. He did not get up on to the dais for a speech and instead spent first five minutes blowing kisses at the audience. Suddenly, he legs started shaking and he collapsed on the stage.
The Sangrur MP was even given the label of a sharabi (drunkard) by his political rivals in Punjab. His habit of arriving drunk at gatherings, and sometimes even to the Parliament, was no secret.
During a speech in Parliament, even PM Modi had said, “As long as you are alive, have fun. Karz Karo aur ghee piyo (take loans and have as much ghee or clarified butter as you want). In those times, there were values, they talked about ghee. Bhagwant Mann would ask them to drink something else.”
Why is it a comical tragedy for Punjab?
Bhagwant Mann has become a laughingstock in the past. But Mann’s possible projection as AAP CM Candidate would be as tragic as would be funny.
For all the anecdotes that can leave people in a burst of laughter, it is Punjab that we are talking about. It is a border state currently facing drug addiction crisis amongst the youth and Pakistan’s attempts to revive terrorism in Punjab.
The state needs a Chief Minister with loads of administrative experience. Bhagwant Mann clearly doesn’t fit for the role for some obvious reasons.