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Mann’s appointment as Punjab AAP chief could be short-term arrangement

Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, May 11: The appointment of Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann as president of the Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab would be yet another passing phase in the short existence of this party. A subtle message was conveyed to some of the MLAs to this effect before making  his announcement. The apprehension was  that Mann  might turn out to be another rebel in case he was overlooked. Three months is the testing time.

The non-ideological conglomerate that is the Aam Aadmi Party has already started disintegrating with the party high-in this case Arvind Kejriwal- continuing to thrust decisions  thereby violating what once was its proclaimed principle of collective decision by involving people at the grassroots. Moreover, the party is still to recover from the shock of its humiliating defeat.

The latest eruption in its Punjab unit has been triggered by the appointment of Mann who has assured Kejriwal that he would not ‘drink’ for at least three months. The most popular leader of the party in Punjab has also been obsessed with heavy drinking for a long time.

This time, the person who has revolted is the one whom Mann has replaced. Ironically, this party that used to swear by inner-party democracy did not even invite Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi Waraich to Delhi before announcing the change. It may be mentioned that like Mann, Ghuggi too got defeated in the Assembly elections. Moreover, he was not even conveyed that he was being replaced. He is the third state party convener to face unceremonious exit after Sumail Singh and Sucha Singh Chhotepur.  Chhotepur was sacked on the basis of a so called sting operation in which was allegedly caught accepting party fund. The recording was never produced. There was none but few questioned the decision of the high command as the lust for power acted as adhesive to seal their lips. These leaders are becoming victims of the same style of decision making one by one. Kejriwal too has refused to change his style.

It is for over a month now that speculations have been around about two third of the party MLAs having approached the BJP. Under the given situation, BJP is the best parking place as even after its victory in Punjab, the Congress is showing little sign of recovery at the national level. The leadership continues with the same stereotyped laid back approach. Going by the People’s Representation Act, for the defection to be valid, it would need two third of the strength of that party in the House. BJP people continue to claim that several of these AAP MLAs are in contact. After all, there is no ideological commitment that could be the binding factor. The only ideology that characterises AAP in Punjab is opportunism.

Mann  is becoming victim of his own politics. At one stage, he is said to have blocked the entry of then People’s Party of Punjab chief Manpreet Singh Badal. Mann too had jumped over to the AAP bandwagon from PPP. His next target was Jagmeet Singh Brar who shared stage with Kejriwal several times but  failed to get the green signal.  Sources maintain that all out efforts had been made  even to keep away the ambitious Sukhpal Singh Khaira  who was the first to register protest by resigning as party’s chief whip in the Assembly and the spokesman. Mann is virtually a loner now. He was the man who was aspiring to be the chief minister as he was the main campaigner of the party in the state.

The political dynamics of Punjab has been different. The ideology of the Congress was to be anti-Akali. AAP charged these two main parties being in league with each other but failed to carry people along on this plank. Punjab has a recent history soaked in blood.

AAP consisted of fringe in Punjab, the people who were looking for space in the political matrix. There is one classic example of this opportunism.  This was a few months before the election when the United Akali Dal was trying to cobble up some sort of front to contest the elections. Two of the leaders who had been  expelled by AAP were seen at a press conference of UAD to be addressed by Bhai Mohkam Singh and Simranjit Singh Mann. They were trying to explore the possibility of roping in all the disparate and desperate elements.

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