Challenging times for Bhagwant Mann as he resumes presidency of Punjab AAP


Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, January 30: Satirist turned Aam Aadmi Party MP from Sangrur Bhagwant Mann resumes presidency of the party in Punjab at the time when the crisis in which it has landed continues to deepen.

He today took over the reins of the party in the presence of party’s Punjab incharge and Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia following the rejection of his resignation from this office that he had submitted in protest against written apology submitted by party chief and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in the defamation case filed by former revenue minister and Akali Dal general secretary Bikramjit Singh Majitha in Amritsar.

The crisis triggered by that apology has resulted in split with its firebrand MLA and former leader of the opposition floating Punjab Ekta Party. He has the support of five other MLAs who, unlike Khaira, have otherwise not resigned from the primary membership of the party.

AAP at one time had emerged as the dream party of Punjabis having overwhelming support from the Punjabi NRIs too. However, monopoly control of Punjab unit by non-Punjabis from Delhi having no understanding of state’s religio-political dynamics damaged the party that failed to come up to the expectations of the support base in the 2017 Assembly elections. The party has been on the downslide since then and has now hit the rock bottom.

The Punjabis feel cheated by the leadership.

Sisodia today tried to sell the agenda of spectacular achievement of his government in Delhi in the field of education and health that is an example for the entire country. There is nothing wrong in marketing this achievement but the social reality in Punjab is that people are concerned more with self-respect.

Punjab’s political domain has never been so fragmented. Punjab Democratic Alliance comprises PEP of Khaira, Punjab Manch of suspended AAP MP from Patiala Dr Dharam Vira Gandhi, Lok Insaaf Party and so on.

The Bargari Insaaf Morcha too at one time was supposed to come up with some sort of political outfit but this conglomerate but possibility has now receded. This agitation over sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib too is an evidence that the space exists for non-Akali Dal and non-Congress dispensation.

Punjab’s political domain has space for third alternative and this has been so for years. However, every time they have put their stakes on some dream-seller, they have felt betrayed and cheated.

Punjabis need a leader whom they can trust and who can inspire them. The leader should be able to lead them from the front.

The resumption of presidency by Mann has to be assessed in this backdrop. His problem is that he has already been tested.

The sacrilege issue continues to push 5-time chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal to the margins. The Badals continue to embroil themselves in one controversy or the other in religious domain.

The situation is again ripe for third alternative.

Punjab needs new leadership.

Jagtar Singh


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