It isn’t easy to stand out making speeches in a crowded Lower House of 543. So, stand-up comedian and Aam Aadmi Party’s first-time MP Bhagwant Mann has chosen the medicine he knows best: laughter.
“Since new MPs don’t get more than two minutes to speak, satire can do the trick. Who wants to give long speeches?” says Mann.
From a comic standpoint, he has found enough satirical fodder in the nation’s politics, as he promises to keep Parliament amused with a new political language of thickly-coated wit. His couplets in Parliament, a social-media hit, recently drew the BBC’s attention.
The comedian, elected from Sangrur, is no joke when it comes to taking political potshots.
When Rs 1.4 crore (including US currency) stolen from BJP MP Giriraj Singh were found by the police, he stood up to say: “Madam Speaker, it seems the BJP has now brought foreign direct investment even in corruption.” An out-of turn-remark, it did not go into the bulky record books of the Lok Sabha.
Before entering politics, Mann had been a successful stand-up, appearing in the hit television series, the Great Indian Laughter Challenge. Recently, addressing the chair, he took a jibe at finance and defence minister Arun Jaitley, making even BJP MPs laugh: “Kya sanjog hai… Jaitley ji ko ek fauji ne haraya (Capt Amarinder Singh of the Congress), aur Modi ji ne Jaitley ji ko faujiyon ka hi mantri bana dala. (Jaitley was defeated by a former army man, yet Modi made Jaitley the defence minister).”
Jokes apart, Mann wants you to take his jokes seriously. “Satire is not just fun, it is a commentary on society.”
Speaking on the rail budget, Mann asked if the railway minister was trying to curry favour with Prime Minister Narendra Modi by selecting Ahmedabad-Mumbai route for a bullet train.
On the selection of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai route for a bullet train, he came up with lines to laud the Railways’ secular character in a communalised scenario: “Main bharatiya rail hoon… Pata nahi paas hoon ya fail hoon, jab har cheez jaativaad ki baarh mein beh gayi hai, aise mein ek rail hi toh hai jo secular reh gayi hai…”