AAP MP Bhagwant Mann in the eye of storm over national security issue


Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, July 22: It was perhaps an unrehearsed act by comedian-turned-lawmaker Bhagwant Mann that went terribly went wrong putting his Aam Aadmi Party in yet another major embarrassing situation. The issue agitated the minds of the MPs cutting across party lines both in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha and both the Houses had to be adjourned till Monday as pandemonium prevailed. The Punjab February 2017 Assembly election was being fought by the MPs in the two Houses on Friday as if to deny this right to the people in the state.

The issue was a video that he had shot on his mobile about the imposing Parliament House  capturing all the movements from his car entering the gates. This is a security breach. He uploaded this video on his Facebook page and his logic was that he was trying to educate people about the functioning of the House. He did it innocently but it is the party that is now at receiving end with the members demanding even his expulsion.

The enraged members recalled the terrorist attack on Parliament House in 2001 when the House was in session. The terrorists were gunned down and in the process several security personnel also lost their lives. It was to be considered to be act of aggression against India and rightly so.

That had happened decade and a half earlier.

In the modern age with every type of spy  gadgets available that even can’t be detected, photographing a place or making its video is no big issue. Raising such hue and cry in this context was perhaps an act that was overdone. The matter could have ended with apology extended by Mann.

The ultra-nationalist TV media people were too angry virtually shouting at the comedian who looked aghast by the ‘national security breach’. After all, they are the sole custodian of country’s security and the most patriotic people.

The most interesting part was that both the main parties, the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress were united in firing salvos against Mann. The Akali Dal was naturally there in the forefront. Punjab is the only state where AAP had succeeded in opening its account in 2014 Lok Sabha election winning four seats. Two of the four MPs are under suspension. One of these rebel MPs Harinder Singh Khalsa wants his seat to be changed saying Mann smells of liquor sitting next to him.

This is the third embarrassment to the party in a row that was brimming with confidence of forming the government in Punjab in February 2017. The first gaffe was using the picture of the Golden Temple with its symbol broom on the cover of is manifesto for the youth. AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal arrived at the Golden Temple two weeks later to apologise. Youth are the main support base of AAP and hence the importance of this document which no one now talks about. Even the method of apology continues to be under attack.

The second embarrassment is about Navjot Singh Sidhu who resigned from the Rajya Sabha ostensibly to join AAP. He was to be projected as the Sikh face of the party in Punjab. Sidhu was recently accommodated by his mother party BJP in the Rajya Sabha under the nomination quota to mollify him after the denial of ticket in the Lok Sabha election. It was Arun Jaitley whom Akalis had persuaded to contest from Amritsar and he faced humiliating defeat. Sidhu had kept away from Amritsar during that period despite the fact that Jaitley had been his mentor.

Now state party convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur has gone on record raking up the issue of his conviction that was subsequently  suspended by the Supreme Court enabling him to contest election. However, the matter is pending and it has not been set aside. AAP is the party that talks of morality and ethics in political life. The boost that AAP would have further received with his joining on the same day would have been tremendous. Not anymore. The move stand punctured. He did not resign as nominated member of the Rajya Sabha just to campaign for AAP as is being made out. Now even his joining is being speculated upon and he has not issued any statement.

The latest is the lot of heat and dust that has come to be raised in parliament for this act of Bhagwant Mann who is also too keen to serve Punjab.

The party can ill-afford three successive embarrassments  and that too within a span of just three weeks as the youth manifesto was released on July 3 last.

The perception about the security issues too should change under the modern age.



Jagtar Singh


[email protected]

Related Editorials