Mann’s journey from comedy king to controversy’s favourite child

  • Chitleen K Sethi, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jul 23, 2016 17:27 IST
After gaining nationwide recognition in the Great Indian Laughter Challenge, Bhagwant Mann dived into active politics with Manpreet Singh Badal’s erstwhile People’s Party of Punjab in 2011. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

As an actor, Bhagwant Mann is famous for his comedy. As an Aam Admi Party MP, his acts continue to land him into serious controversies.

The stand-up comedian turned politician still remains the most popular face of AAP in Punjab, where elections are due in less than a year. Even as the AAP aims win the state, Mann’s acts might have handed over ammo in Opposition’s hands.

Two years ago, Mann had called a press conference to highlight the plight of Punjabis stranded in Iraq. But a video of his “strange behavior”-- breaking down and getting into the boot of his car—gained more publicity. Many thought he was drunk or was suffering from depression.

Last year, he filed for divorce. He took to Facebook to say that he was leaving his wife to serve Punjab. His wife, Inderjit Kaur who had stood by him like a rock through his tumultuous political journey, returned to Australia where Mann had settled down before joining politics in 2011. Social media slammed the MP for exploiting a personal issue for political gain.

Read: Parliament video row: Only wanted to educate voters, says Mann

From a Sangrur village, Mann started his comedy career participating in youth festivals and inter-college competitions and made albums super hit like “Kulfi Garma Garm”. After gaining nationwide recognition in the Great Indian Laughter Challenge—a reality TV show, he dived into active politics when Manpreet Singh Badal’s erstwhile People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) in 2011. He couldn’t win assembly seat from Lehragaga in 2012 but when he joined AAP in March 2014, there was no looking back.

This year a video of Mann mocking government school teachers evoked strong reactions on social media. Critics have hit out several times over his drinking habits.

Despite his frequent antics, his brilliant wit coupled with oratory skills makes him the quintessential crowd puller for AAP. Mann won the Lok Sabha polls with the huge margin of more than 2 lakh votes in 2014 from Sangrur. His chemistry with the crowd when he is speaking even from makeshift stages is electric. During several public meetings the crowds have even forced other AAP speakers to allow Mann to speak first. Hours after the parliament controversy on Friday, Mann addressed a large gathering in Lalru, his audience as responsive as ever, completely unaffected by the controversies that surround him.

Read: Bhagwant Mann has vindicated public perception about AAP: Capt Amarinder

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