Sangrur MP and senior AAP leader Bhagwant Mann, who has been under fire from opponents over his ‘alcohol problem’, announced in a rally Sunday that he has given up drinking, much to the satisfaction of Arvind Kejriwal, the national convenor of the party, who was present at the rally.
Mann said he had been “unfairly targeted” for being an alcoholic by political opponents and claimed that from January 1, he had quit drinking. He said after Sunday’s rally, he would go to Gurdwara Gursagar Mastuana Sahib, near Sangrur, to pray to this effect. Speaking in the presence of his mother, who was seated on the stage, he said his mother too had been asking him to quit the habit.
“I was accused of being alcoholic. Old videos of mine used to be shown to damage my reputation. I come from a line of entertainment and this habit exists there. I accept I used to drink a bit. But now I have made a public announcement and no one can accuse me of this anymore. Subah de bhuleya hoya shaam nu ghar aa jaaye te usnu buleya nayi kehnde (If someone repents his mistake, he should not be considered wayward),” he said.
Mann’s statement won him praise from Kejriwal, who said he had won his heart. “Neta ho to aisa ho jo janta ke liye kisi bhi kism ki qurbani karne ko tayyar ho (A leader should be like him who is ready to make any sacrifice for the people),” he said.
Mann resigned as state AAP president in February last year after Kejriwal tendered an apology to Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia in a defamation case for levelling false accusations. However, despite his resignation, he has been leading the party in the state as a full-time state chief is yet to be named by the party.
Lauding Mann further, Kejriwal said, “We all respect our mothers. Lekin humare mein se kitne log hai jo apni ma ke kehne se daaru chhorne ke liye tayyar hai? (But how many of us are ready to quit drinking on our mother’s insistence?) We all respect Punjab and our country. How many people are ready to quit drinking alcohol for Punjab and their country? I am proud to say that Bhagwant Mann is a tall leader of AAP from Punjab,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kejriwal on Sunday launched AAP’s Lok Sabha campaign in Punjab with a focus on the Dalit community. Listing the welfare measures his government had taken for Dalits in Delhi, he accused Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh of having “deceived the Dalit community and people of Punjab through false promises”.