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One of the only four AAP candidates to win in the Lok Sabha elections, comedian-turned-politician Bhagwant Mann talks about his party’s strategy in Parliament, Punjab’s drug problem, and why he doesn’t like Navjot Singh Sidhu. This session was moderated by Editor (Punjab) Vipin Pubby.
Kanchan Vasdev: You recorded a landslide victory by polling nearly 50 per cent of the votes in your constituency, Sangrur.
It is the victory of the people. They would wait for me in villages till 12.45 am or even later than that. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal claims that I entertained them with my jokes. But I only highlighted the fact that the incumbent government has failed to fulfil its promises. I want people to question their leaders. We shot videos of people confronting their leaders and posted them on YouTube. People in Punjab are fond of social media and that helped spread the message faster and wider. The maximum contribution came from NRIs. An NRI from Toronto came to Sangrur to thank people for having voted for me. His son and daughter had canvassed for me on social media and vowed never to visit Punjab if I lost. NRIs are victims of our system; they had to leave India in search of a better system.
Vipin Pubby: Why did the Aam Aadmi Party succeed only in Punjab, drawing a blank everywhere else?
We did not do badly in Delhi where our vote share went up from 29 per cent in the Assembly polls to 33 per cent in the Lok Sabha elections. We could not get any seats because the Congress fared very poorly across the country and particularly in Delhi. But the future belongs to the BJP and AAP. The Congress is going to be in coma for at least 10-15 years. All other parties are also finished. Sonia Gandhi came to canvass for Vijay Inder Singla, the Congress candidate from my constituency. But she could not help him get votes.
Mukesh Bhardwaj: Why couldn’t AAP emerge as a third alternative in the country? Was it because of the poor performance of AAP government in Delhi?
The message behind the resignation of our government in Delhi was that we were not after power. But we could not convey that message properly.
Vandana Sharma: Why was AAP rejected in Haryana?
Circumstances and issues differ from region to region and from state to state. Even dialect changes every few kilometres in Punjab and continued…