‘SAD, Cong graph down, will fare better’ - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

‘SAD, Cong graph down, will fare better’

‘SAD, Cong graph down, will fare better’

Battling infighting and resignations, the beleagured Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is looking to wooing Punjab voters with its Delhi mode of governance. In a candid interview with The Tribune reporter Jupinderjeet Singh, state president and Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann spoke about the party weaknesses and efforts to usher in change. Excerpts from the interview:  

What do you think are AAP chances in the Lok Sabha polls?

The chances are bright. We may make an impact stronger than that in the 2014 elections. The Akalis and Congress are no longer popular. The Congress has not implemented even half of its manifesto. It has failed to provide jobs or debt relief to farmers. The drug menace persists and the promised monthly pension of Rs 2,500 is yet to arrive. Not much has been achieved on punishing those behind sacrilege incidents. Not just the Opposition, but Congress leaders too are questioning the CM. People are on the streets protesting. On the other hand, AAP has provided a successful model of governance in Delhi. 

AAP is a divided house. Two of the four MPs have moved away. The party has seen more leaders deserting it than joining ranks.

The party is in construction mode. Unfortunately, some wrong persons with personal motives had joined the party. Their posts gone, they are now calling Kejriwal a dictator. We believe that leaders can change, but not the party’s policy. We are the only party in Punjab where 19 of the 20 MLAs do not come from a political background. Only one of them did, and the result is for all to see.

AAP attacked other parties, advocating change in politics. Now you are looking for alliances. Have you become one of the parties that you so often criticised?

Not at all. At times new parties do not have the numbers to bring about change. AAP has already brought change in the way politics is played. Leaders are now showing up on people’s doorstep instead of holding road shows. It is not easy to take on the Congress and the SAD, especially because they join hands to beat us. We admit we don’t have the required strength in Majha and, hence, are looking for a partner. The SAD-Taksali too wants to get rid of the Congress and SAD. 

AAP had in 2017 warmed up to Sikh hardliners and lost Hindu votes. Now again the party is talking about a possible alliance with Panthic parties.

It was our rivals who deliberately created that false perception. We are a secular party. We don’t use religion for seeking votes

Which are the issues likely to influence the elections this time?

Issues confronting the state for long, like the dominance of politically-backed land, sand, transport and cable mafia. People talk to us about their suffering at the hands of the mafia. It is a pity that Punjabis, who are successful across the globe, are suffering in their home state. 

Will people vote for a PM face? Also, Punjab is a border state. Do you think the recent airstrikes on Pakistan is a poll issue?

I don’t think people will vote for a PM-candidate. The incumbent PM has set no such bar. Addressing political rallies has remained his focus. The airstrikes on Pakistan or any military operation should not be made a poll issue.  I strongly condemn it. We should keep defence matters out of politics.

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