“Kal ki hoeya Jalalabad? Sukhbir Badal geya (pause), lokan ne (pause), gadian te (pause), rore mare ne.” The Aam Admi Party’s Bhagwant Mann, the Sangrur MP who is set to contest the assembly election against Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in the latter’s stronghold of Jalalabad, was on stage in the small village of Sabhrah late Monday night, relating how his opponent’s convoy was attacked Sunday.
At this rally and elsewhere, Mann has been recounting the attack over and over. When the stone throwing began in Khandwala Huzur Khan village, Sukhbir’s car had left. That doesn’t stop Mann from using it as a new weapon in his armoury of comic barbs against SAD. The shoe attack on Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir’s father, has become another.
“Badal saab de jutti vajji? (Has Badal saab been attacked with a shoe),” Mann asked in Gharuan village in Mohali Wednesday, beaming as he answered his own question, “Bhagwant Mann da hath hona (Bhagwant Mann must have been behind it).”
With deftly mixed messages, he has been asking the audience not to vent their anger through violence but at the same time making it clear he is not condemning the shoe thrower or the stone hurlers. “Sukhbir is now saying Bhagwant Mann has instigated the crowd to throw stones. Sukhbir, your bad deeds are responsible,” he said in Sabhrah.
His opponents allege some of his speeches are an instigation to violence. “Bhagwant Mann khenda bai dalla to dalla hota hai, pata nahi kidar sey chala hota hai (Bhagwant Mann is telling people that a stone is stone. Who knows which direction it came from).” The rhyme adorns AAP posters in Jalalabad and other constituencies.
“How can I call it a laddu?” he said.
He threw a challenge at his opponents: “Let Sukhbir, Bikram Singh Majithia and Captain Amarinder Singh choose a time and place and come without security. I too will come. Let us all come in, people without security, just for half an hour. I bet you, in half an hour, their faces will be unrecognisable.”
Then the punch line: “Because you people will give them so much love, kissing them on their foreheads. Because they are so loved by the public.”
Inputs by Kanchan Vasdev