AAP MP Bhagwant Mann, blamed by SAD for the recent attack on Sukhbir Badal’s convoy, hits back in this interview. Excerpts:
SAD’s complaint to the Election Commission is against AAP and you in particular for the attack on Sukhbir.
If SAD leader Virsa Singh Valtoha tells people to beat up those wearing chitti topiyan (AAP’s signature caps), then it is justified. If he says he is an attwadi (terrorist) on the floor of the assembly, nobody raises an eyebrow.
Are you justifying the stone pelting?
I am not justifying the pelting. I posted a video on Facebook appealing to people not to resort to violence: Batte na maaro, button dabbo (Do not use stones, use the button). Otherwise, if the Bargadi sacrilege happens then Sukhbir blames it on Pakistan. Same with the Nabha jailbreak. When they are attacked themselves, then they hold Bhagwant Mann responsible. This is nothing but their baukhlahat (nervousness) at the prospect of their defeat. Haar rahe ne. It is the writing on the wall.
Don’t some of your speeches amount to instigation against the Badals?
I did not instigate anyone. People hate them. They don’t even want to see them. People were telling me that they were so sick of the ruling dispensation, that they would not let them enter their villages. People have put up banners in their villages that Akali and Congress leaders are not allowed. The same thing happened that day. After that, I have been appealing to people, my supporters and volunteers not to resort to this kind of violence… I never asked anyone to keep stones. If people are upset and want to vent their anger, I can only appeal to them.
Don’t you think the stone pelting, especially after a speech by you, is taking politics to another low?
Where does the dignity go when Akali minister Sikandar Singh Malooka uses an expletive for a policeman? I cannot use the forbidden word here. Where did it go when Parkash Singh Badal told people to loot banks? Now when Bhagwant Mann’s rallies are getting a huge response, takleef hundi hai. Sometimes they say I drink. When am I drunk when I am live at 9:30 pm, addressing rallies in the cold weather? They forget their MLAs are liquor barons… Shraab maafia te maalik aap ne, ilzam mere te laonde ne.
How will you deal with the complaint against you?
Let the Election Commission send me a notice. I will reply to them.
Will you protect those who pelted the stones? Or, let the law handle them?
We have told the police to watch the video and arrest those who pelted stones. If they arrest our innocent volunteers, then I will protect them.
Do you have the video?
They should have the CCTV grabs. When our office in Jalalabad was attacked, we handed the grabs to the police. The right people were arrested.
Do you fear an attack on you?
They attacked me in the Malout rally. The problem was with my kikli (a satirical speech lampooning the Badals). Now will they write my speeches also?
It has been alleged that you orchestrated a demand to make you CM candidate.
All they said is, “Samay aane par bataynege.” We don’t have a race like that in the party.