When his Facebook video on how Parliament works has created a security issue, Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann is now accused of coming to the House drunk. The complainant, his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) colleague Harinder Singh Khalsa, has asked the speaker for a change of seat.
Khalsa, who represents Fatehgarh Sahib and has been suspended by the AAP, moved a written request to Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Friday. “It is torturous to sit next to a drunk Mann,” he wrote. “I am a Sikh who comes to Parliament after performing prayer. It hurts my religious sentiments to smell liquor from the adjoining seat. I feel nauseating,” said Khalsa, who takes seat 495, while Mann occupies 496.
“I was forced to write to the speaker as last resort, after hoping Mann would kick his habit,” said the MP, who has raised the issue publicly before. Last week, Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh levelled the same allegation and, earlier, sacked AAP leader Yogendra Yadav had told the media that Mann would even attend the party meetings drunk.
Mann accused Khalsa of defaming him. “Why was he was quiet for so long? Seeing me cornered today, he tried to settle a score related to his suspension from the party. I will lodge a counter-complaint and sue him,” he said. The speaker has started looking into the charges.
All four AAP MPs are from Punjab. In August 2015, the party suspended Khalsa and his Patiala counterpart Dr Dharamvira Gandhi for going to a parallel rally of expelled leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan in Amritsar. Since the two MPs are suspended but not sacked, they have to follow the party’s whip in Parliament. Fourth MP Sadhu Singh keeps a low profile.