Upset over People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) chief Manpreet Badal’s move to forge an alliance with the Congress, his key aide, comedian-turned-politician Bhagwant Mann, has accused the former finance minister of “selling” the PPP’s mission just for one Lok Sabha seat.
“Where is Manpreet’s mission to change the system now? Where is his ideology that termed the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Congress as two sides of the same coin (corruption)? I wonder how he will seek support for the Congress in Bathinda as he had taken an oath to root out this party, while forming the PPP at Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s birthplace in Khatkar Kalan... I can only wish him luck,” the renowned Punjabi comedian told Hindustan Times.
A founder member of the PPP and president of the party’s youth wing, Mann, whose decision to leave the PPP is a mere announcement away, is likely to join the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and contest the polls from Sangrur Lok Sabha segment.
He said the PPP should have formed a coalition with the AAP. Mann said he had pressed Manpreet to go for it since the basic ideology of both parties was the same.
“We had got the merger offer and the AAP was ready to give us at least seven-eight seats. They were ready to recognise Manpreet as the undisputed leader of the party from Punjab. But the PPP chief chose what suited him best. I can only say, Kuch to majboorian rahin hongi unki, varna yun hi koi bewafa nahin hota (He must have had his compulsions),” said Mann, best known for his socio-political satires.
When asked why he was not joining Manpreet for a tie-up with the Congress, Mann replied, “Ki kahanga Bathinda ja ke lokan nu… ke Manpreet nu vote deyo te Rahul Gandhi de hath mazboot karo… (What would I say to the people in Bathinda? Vote for Manpreet and strengthen Rahul?) I doubt if Manpreet will be able to do this because as far as I know him, he is an honest man. But I cannot do this, it’s for sure. I am not bikau maal (saleable commodity). I am not Khushaldeep Dhillon or Jagbir Brar,” said Mann.
Dhillon, a former Akali MLA from Faridkot and Brar, then sitting SAD MLA from Jalandhar Cantonment, had left the PPP before the 2012 assembly polls to join the Congress, a few months after the formation of Manpreet’s party.
Mann stated that after Manpreet showed the courage to speak against the SAD and Congress, people of Punjab had started recognising him as a future game-changer.
“But it’s sad that he was not a game-changer but the one who plays the same game of politics. He should have joined the Congress when he quit the SAD. Why did he spoil the career of several professionals who joined him,” Mann questioned.
The comedian, who unsuccessfully contested the 2012 assembly polls against Congress stalwart Rajinder Kaur Bhattal from Lehra (Sangrur), when asked about his plans, hinted at joining the AAP. “Even if I don’t join the AAP, I was Bhagwant Mann before joining Manpreet and will remain so at least,” he said.
Mann has not been answering Manpreet’s phone calls since Tuesday. “For me, the PPP was a mission, not a commission. I am very sad that Manpreet ended this mission without reaching any conclusion,” he said.