Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann on Thursday advocated the announcement of the chief ministerial candidate of his party well before the 2017 assembly polls in Punjab.
Replying to a media query at a press conference in Chandigarh, Mann said it would be better if there was a timely decision on the chief ministerial candidate. When asked about his willingness to be one, Mann said, “I won’t mind pasting my party’s posters or carrying the party’s election symbol, broom, or being projected as the chief ministerial candidate.”
In the same breath, he talked about his having been judged as one of the most active parliamentarians having raised the maximum questions and taken part in debates, and one who had addressed maximum number of rallies and meetings in the state.
Mann again clarified that AAP convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is not the CM candidate for Punjab but he would frequently visit the state for campaigning.
The chairman of the election campaign committee of AAP in Punjab, Mann said their party had decided to start the process of selecting candidates for the assembly polls by April 2016 by calling applications from the common man, after which they would be screened and a final decision is expected by June. “People of a constituency will have a role in deciding the candidate,” he added.
Speaking on the induction of BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu and People’s Party of Punjab president Manpreet Badal into the AAP, Mann said so far there were no efforts from any side. Talking about Sidhu, Mann said he was welcome to join the party. Mann said the queue of those wanting to join the AAP is long, but it is for the party to decide whom to take. “A clean image and people not seeking anything from the party is our only criterion,” he added.
Taking a dig at state Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh, Mann said he had led his party to defeat on two previous occasions and the same was expected this time.
Youth wing convener Harjot Bains, who was also present, said the party was focusing on its January 14 rally at Muktsar, which would be addressed by Kejriwal.
Shergill maintaining red book
Meanwhile, Himmat Singh Shergill, party’s legal cell incharge, said he was maintaining a red book of “oppression by the SAD-BJP government” and all those behind it would face the music once the AAP government came to power.
‘To safeguard freedom of speech’
In the beginning of his address to media, Mann said that on coming to power his government would work to safeguard the freedom of speech that had been “gagged” by the SAD-BJP government. “Such is their (government’s) style of functioning that they are not allowing news channels to work freely. Those speaking against the government have been forced to shut down or not allowed to operate,” he added.