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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

‘Did no crime by appreciating Channi, will join Cong,’ says AAP MLA Jagtar Singh Hissowal

In an interview, the Aam Aadmi Party MLA from Raikot tells Divya Goyal Gopal the reasons behind the move, allegations against him of being a ‘non-performer’ and what went wrong with the AAP.

Written by Divya Goyal | Chandigarh |
Updated: November 13, 2021 9:57:43 am
On Thursday in Vidhan Sabha, MLA Jagtar Singh Hissowal crossed the floor of the House and joined the treasury benches while calling Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi an “aam aadmi”. (Express Photo)

Aam Aadmi Party MLA from Raikot, Jagtar Singh Hissowal, Thursday created a flutter when he crossed over to treasury benches in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, held hands with Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and hailed him as the real ‘aam aadmi’. In an interview, he tells Divya Goyal Gopal the reasons behind the move, allegations against him of being a ‘non-performer’ and what went wrong with the AAP.

Here are some excerpts from the interview

What made you cross over to treasury benches in Vidhan Sabha? Despite being an MLA from the main opposition party, you praised CM.

It is the work that (Charanjit Singh) Channi is doing for common people since he has taken over as the CM that has impressed me. Yesterday, AAP MLAs walked out and they were protesting against Congress. I was among them but when AAP did not stop protesting, then Channi asked if we consider him as an ‘aam aadmi’ or not. It was then that I got up and agreed that indeed he was the real aam aadmi CM.

Channi ne ki maada kam kitta? (What wrong has Channi done) All works he has done till now were the demands of common people. AAP only kept promising that we will do this and that for the common man but Channi actually did it. I do not feel I did any crime or broke any rule by appreciating Channi. If I hugged him in the House, what rule did I break? When these politicians hurl abuses inside the House, then rules are not violated?

Was it just an appreciation for the CM or you have decided to join Congress?

Yes, I am joining Congress. There’s no looking back now. We (AAP) never had a CM face in 2017, even now for 2022 we do not have one. Ten tickets for sitting MLAs, which AAP announced today, is because many more were ready to defect to Congress. Some AAP MLAs and local leaders met me but I have made up my mind to join Congress. Ehna kuch karke hun waapis thodi aaunga ji. (I won’t look back after coming this far). Now, I have nothing to do with AAP. I will join Congress in the coming 2-3 days days hopefully.

What made you join AAP? What went wrong?

Joining AAP was more of social activism and junoon (enthusiasm) to do something for common people. When AAP came, it said they will work for common people. I got impressed with (Delhi CM and AAP national convenor Arvind) Kejriwal and his promises, but now they have turned into dictators. When (former IG) Kunwar Vijay Partap joined, we were called on stage but after that we, despite being elected representatives of the people, were never called on stage whenever Kejriwal visited Punjab. After all, people elected us. AAP is just ‘team B’ of BJP and RSS and they just want to fight against Congress. Two people have been pitched parallel to me in my own constituency by the party. Is this how they value their own MLAs?

What are your reasons for leaving AAP?

Firstly, they did not declare Bhagwant Mann as CM candidate, ohna nu laarey laa ke rakheya haje tak (they have kept dilly-dallying on naming him CM face). Had he been declared CM candidate three months back, then AAP would have been in a different situation than what it is now in Punjab. Had they not announced 10 candidates today, four more would have left the party. People of Punjab who want to vote for AAP, want Mann as CM. People feel that only Mann can keep AAP alive in Punjab. I also feel the same. Secondly, MLAs are sick and tired of the AAP leadership’s dictatorship. I felt mentally free yesterday, I felt as if I released some burden from my head.

But there are allegations that you have been a ‘non-performer’ as an MLA.

AAP was in opposition so could the party have got any work done? But in five years, I have not let any injustice happen to the people of Raikot. I stood with them. I got farmers adequately compensated when their lands were acquired for Ludhiana airport. I also got flood victims compensated. I raised 190 questions in Vidhan Sabha related to development projects in Raikot including bus stand, roads etc. Works were done only because I raised questions.

Who Is Jagtar Singh Hissowal?

An artiste, painter, an actor and a teacher — Jagtar Singh Hissowal won his maiden Assembly election from Raikot constituency of Ludhiana in 2017 on Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket. He had defeated bigwigs such as former IAS officer Amar Singh Boparai of Congress and SAD’s Inder Iqbal Atwal who is also son of former Vidhan Sabha Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal. Before joining AAP in 2016, he was the national youth president of Sikh Sehajdhari Party. In 2018, he was among MLAs who had openly rebelled against the AAP in support of Sukhpal Singh Khaira who was unceremoniously removed as Leader of Opposition in Vidhan Sabha. However, he later returned to the party fold.

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