The Punjab unit of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has asked its supporters to vote for the candidates having a clean image, a move to keep its vote bank intact in the state that has given the party four members of Parliament (MPs).
Enthused by the AAP's overwhelming performance in the recently-held Delhi assembly elections, the party's senior leaders had asked workers to contest the polls as Independents in the wards where party has a strong grip.
"We have accepted our workers' demand to contest the polls independently. But, senior leaders will not campaign for them," said Bhagwant Mann, AAP MP from Sangrur.
In the wards where the party doesn't have its own candidates, the supporters have been asked to vote for the nominees of any political party having a clean image, Mann said.
Has the party's decision anything to do with its Delhi victory? Mann replied cautiously: "There is no doubt the party's win has given a boost to our leaders as well to the grassroots workers. However, we have respected the decision of our workers to contest as independents."
The AAP is pinning hopes on the farmers and is planning to raise their issues at the state- and central-level to make a foray into the rural vote bank of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Congress.
"First, we will take up the issue of land acquisition ordinance in Parliament during the budget session. We will also reach out to the farmers for their support against anti-farmers' law," the comedian-turned-politician said.
Mann also sought the support of his SAD counterparts to protest the ordinance, as "they have been elected by the farmers to raise their issues".
"Punjab people are looking for a change, but now they need to raise their voice against the anti-farmer law brought by the Modi government, in which the SAD is a partner," he said.
The AAP leader also criticised the BJP-led Central government for "betraying the farming community".
"The BJP had promised to implement some key recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, but the Modi government has betrayed lakhs of farmers of the country," he said, adding: "We have launched Jai Kisan Abhiyan from Haryana, and will now raise the issue of every farmer of the country from roads to the Parliament."