Election From comedian to AAP CM face, will the real Bhagwant Mann please stand up?

Election From comedian to AAP CM face, will the real Bhagwant Mann please stand up?

Election

Sarcastic, scornful and serious at the same time. Meet 48-year-old Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann, and now the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) CM candidate. He was named the party’s chief ministerial face after more than 93 per cent of respondents voted for him in a phone line survey.

A college dropout, he turned out to be one of India’s most popular standup comedians, and then a crowd-pulling leader of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab.

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TRYST WITH POLITICS

Mann’s tryst with active politics began with Manpreet Singh Badal’s People’s Party of Punjab in 2011. That debut was unsuccessful at the hustings.

Mann couldn’t win his seat in the Punjab assembly elections a year later.

AAP’S BOOSTER SHOT

But when he joined AAP in March 2014, Mann breezed into the Lok Sabha with a margin of more than two lakh votes from Sangrur, his home district.

In politics, Mann was the only silver lining in AAP’s Lok Sabha contest in 2019. He retained this Sangrur seat but with a reduced margin of a little over one lakh votes. Sangrur, in Punjab’s bellwether Malwa region, is abuzz about Mann’s possible second attempt for a slot in the state legislature from one of its assembly segments. He appears to have a committed fan-following here.

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“Mann doesn’t carry airs around him,” remarked an elderly farmer, sitting at a chaupal in Sangrur’s Bhasaur village. A young man standing beside credited the local AAP MP with what he called his engagement with voters over citizen rights. “It’s because of him that we came to know about our rights as a voter and as a citizen,” the man insisted. “Bhagwant Mann made us aware about it.”

WEB OF PAST CONTROVERSIES

That said, Mann and controversy have gone hand-in-hand. He has been accused of compromising Parliament security and even attending the house drunk.

And then came some damage control.

Mann made a teetotal pledge at a public rally two years ago at a public rally in Barnala.

FAMILY LIFE

In 2015, Mann and his wife filed for divorce. They have two children, a daughter and a son, who live overseas.

MOMENTOUS CHALLENGES IN 2022 POLLS

The challenge for Bhagwant Mann is momentous this time around. Between the last and this Assembly election, the fight has turned multipolar. And Mann, hailed as the pride of AAP in Punjab, has to sail the Aam Aadmi Party through a five-cornered contest in the state.

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