While the Election Commission is trying to ensure violence-free polls in Punjab, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Bhagwant Mann’s speech urging voters to welcome opposition leaders with stones has not gone down well with the SAD leaders here.
Bhagwant Mann was in Sardulgarh on Wednesday evening and, while addressing a crowd, he said that opposition leaders would be welcomed with stones during their election campaign. “They (SAD leaders) will not get votes, but face stones. There will be black marketing of stones and within the coming days, reports would surface that a gang of stone-pelters, intending to disrupt Bhundar’s rally, have been arrested near Jhunir. The identity of a stone-pelter is never known. Dala dala hota hai, pata nahi kidhar se chala hota hai.” Amid crowd cheers, Mann said that a stone-pelter is never caught as nobody knows about his identity.
Later, the crowd reminded him that SAD MP Balwinder Singh Bhundar was allegedly mishandled in Dulowal village earlier this week to which Mann said that SAD leaders would face the wrath of voters in this fashion in the coming days. This was not the first time when Mann had spoken about possible stone-pelting against the SAD leaders during the election campaign. It should be noted that the Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP's) election office in Jalalabad town of Fazilka district was allegedly ransacked by a group of men last month.
SAD MP Balwinder Singh, who was allegedly manhandled by two men at Dulowal village on Monday, criticised Mann for inciting voters for violence and asked the Election Commission to take cognisance of his speeches. “Mann is an immature person and we have heard his speeches where he is inciting voters to resort to violence. We appeal to the Election Commission to take cognisance of his speeches and take appropriate action against him.” When asked why the SAD leaders never raised the issue earlier as Mann has often spoken of stone-pelting in his speeches, Bhundar said that even criticism of the wrongdoings of Mann will go against them."We never criticised him earlier as this will go against us. Moreover, I want to clarify that nobody mishandled me in Dulowal village, rather it was a handiwork of some mischievous elements to disrupt my meeting and capture the video."
Local Congress leader Manjit Singh Jhalbuti said that the AAP had been deliberately inciting voters against politicians. “ A shoe-thrower like Jarnail Singh is projected as a crusader while Mann is cheering crowds to resort to stone-pelting. While, we are all expecting to ensure that elections should be fair and peaceful. the AAP has been trying its level best to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere of the state.”
District election officer Varinder Kumar Sharma said that a team of observers would keep an eye on the election rallies to ensure violence-free poll in Mansa. “We will be keeping an eye on speeches and published material, which has potential to incite violence or hurt sentiments of any candidate, political party or a sect. ”
Watch Bagwant Mann’s speech here: