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Jokes apart, Mann means business

india Updated: Jan 19, 2012 21:04 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times
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He is a veteran stand-up comedian but a rookie politician. Nevertheless, his expertise in captivating the audience is holding him in good stead during campaigning.

People's Party of Punjab (PPP) candidate Bhagwant Mann, pitted against Congress heavyweight Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, is busy taking potshots at the Congress as well as the Shiromani Akali Dal. His barbs of sarcasm are not only funny but also thought-provoking.

"65 saal ho gaye sanu aazad hoyan nu… 20 saal ton bibi Bhattal raaj kari jandi hai… rona aa reha hai mainu… halle vi sadiyaan matavan pani dooron sir te dho rehiyan ne… sade kissan aatam hatya kar rahe ne (65 years have passed since Independence. For the past 20 years, Bhattal has been representing the area. I feel like crying ... our mothers still have to fetch water from long distances… our farmers are committing suicide)," says Mann in a voice choked with emotion.

Jugnu, Bebo bhua and Bhajna amli - the characters made famous by Mann - take turns to amuse the crowd as he accuses Bhattal of not visiting the area after winning the elections.

"Jadon jahaj ne digna hunda hai tan dharti te control room kehnda hai ke ohda dharti ton sampark tut gya hai. Hun bibi (Bhattal) da vi aa hi haal hoyu….. kyunki pichhli vaar jitan ton baad oh kade halke wich aayi hi nahin (When a plane is about to crash, the control room says it has lost link with the ground. Bhattal is going to meet a similar fate in the polls)," adds Mann, the PPP vice-president.

"My political detractors allege that I am a comedian and the crowd comes to my meetings just to listen to my jokes. Perhaps they don't know that, Hukumat wo karte hain jinka dilon main raaj hota hai… yun to kehne ko murge ke sar pe bhi taaj hota hai (People who rule the hearts run the government)," he tells a gathering in Moonak town.

Addressing an octogenarian woman at Adakwaas village, he tells her not only to admire him but also vote for him.

Youths on motorcycles follow Mann's silver Innova as he sings, "Votaan deyo votaan, ik varri phatte chak deyo, das deyo bibi nu janta ki hundi hai... (Give me votes… show Bhattal the power of the public)."

"I don't want to be just a comedian for the people of Lehra. They have seen me perform as my native place is just 10 km from here. Now, I want to serve them with dedication," Mann told Hindustan Times, while having food along a mustard field.
Some renowned Punjabi singers will join Mann for campaigning, including Gurdas Maan, Sherry Mann, Babbu Mann and Gippy Grewal.

"Many of my colleagues have expressed their wish to join me in Lehra. Actually, I don't want them all to come here. I want to win the polls on the basis of my agenda, not by entertaining the public," says Mann.