AAP’s Bhagwant Mann says no need to fight Shahkot bypoll: ‘Prepare for 2019’
Citing the example of the assembly byelection in the Dhuri constituency more than two years ago, Mann said AAP did not contest and the fight was between the Congress and the Akalis.Updated: May 05, 2018 10:30 IST
With the clock ticking for naming the party candidate, there is no consensus in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on contesting the Shahkot assembly bypoll.
Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann, arguably AAP’s most popular face in Punjab, is of the view that the party should not contest the assembly bypoll scheduled for May 28. “During the bypolls, people want to get their work done from the government. We are a small party that needs to concentrate on building organisational set-up at the grassroots. Our target should be the 2019 Lok Sabha elections instead,” he told HT.
Citing the example of the assembly byelection in the Dhuri constituency more than two years ago, Mann said AAP did not contest and the fight was between the Congress and the Akalis. He said SAD, which was in the government at that time, won the bypoll but the Congress got the seat in the 2017 assemble elections last year. “This is my personal opinion. The final call on whether to contest or not is that of the party leadership,” he said.
Though AAP’s state co-president Balbir Singh has already declared that the party will fight the bypoll, there are divergent views in the state unit due to its slender prospects of winning the contest. AAP candidate Amarjit Mehatpur was third with 31% votes during the assembly election last year, but he switched sides to join the SAD a month ago. Balbir Singh on Wednesday said that a majority of state leaders were in favour of fighting the election.
‘Not keen on post’
Mann also said he did not need any post to work for the party. “I quit the post, not the party. I am a party worker and will keep doing my work,” he said on being asked to comment on Balbir Singh’s statement that efforts were being made to persuade him to continue as the state unit president. Mann had quit the party post in protest against AAP national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s apology to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Bikram Majithia to settle a defamation case over drug-related allegations.
The Sangrur MP said he had quit the post because Kejriwal did not even talk to him before apologising to Majithia. “I crisscrossed the state, raising the drug issue though ‘kikli’ (satirical speeches). He should have thought about it,” he said. “People of Sangrur have given me a huge responsibility. I want to fulfil that and work for development of the area,” he said. He had won the seat with the highest margin in the state during the 2014 parliamentary polls.