Bhagwant Mann, MP from Sangrur and Aam Aadmi Party’s campaign committee chairman for Assembly election in Punjab election, spoke to The Sunday Guardian on the party’s election strategy for 2017. Excerpts:
Q: What is AAP’s strategy for the Punjab election??
A: We will do door-to-door campaign highlighting the failure of the Badal government. We will also do rallies across Punjab. We have strengthened our organisation in the state, starting from the booth level to the zone level. The party’s central wing has been constituted. By April next year, we would have prepared our blueprint for the polls.
Q: What exactly will be the blueprint?
A: This would be a document comprising the problems and solutions with regards to the state, focusing on “Punjab bolda hain kisani”, “Punjab bolda hain drugs” which would address the issues of farmers and drug menace in the state.
Q: How many seats is the AAP planning to contest?
A: We will contest all the 117 seats and it won’t be surprising if we win all of them. I am sure the results will repeat what we achieved in Delhi, if not more.
Q: What would be the criteria for choosing candidates?
A: We will choose candidates from the common man. A thorough background check and criminal records check would be done before giving tickets.
Q: Do you see yourself as the next Chief Minister of Punjab?
A: The party would consult all the leaders and declare its CM candidate. If the party thinks I am capable of being the Chief Minister of Punjab I would be more than happy to take that job up.
Q: Who are your rivals?
A: Our biggest rival in the state is the Shiromani Akali Dal. Their 10-year of power destroyed Punjab. All the industries have shifted to the neighbouring states, as there is lack of proper industrial policy in the state. Punjab is also struggling with the menace of drugs, and people who are involved in smuggling drugs are the ones who are in power. The farmers of Punjab are also committing suicides, and in return they get Rs 11 as compensation cheque.
Q: Are you considering any alliance?
A: No, we are not considering any alliance. We will fight this election on our own and we are sure of getting a clear majority. We do not believe in coalition politics.
Q: But you went for an alliance with the congress during the 49 days of AAP government in Delhi.
A: No, we did not seek their support. They offered their support themselves.
Q: There are increasing allegations that AAP lacks internal democracy. We also saw two AAP MPs from Punjab being suspended. Your comments.
A: No there is nothing like that. I am a member of the national executive body, and all of us are entitled to share our views. As far as the two MPs — Dharamvira Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa — who were suspended, they were involved in anti-party activities.
Q: You have been talking about the liquor mafia and drug mafia operating in the state. How would you tackle this if you come to power?
A: We would prosecute everybody who is involved in this heinous crime. We have strong and concrete evidence against them. I am not afraid to say that they are from the ruling party. They have destroyed generations in Punjab. We would file FIRs against them and start investigations.
Q: What role would Arvind Kejriwal play in the Punjab elections?
A: Arvind Kejriwal is our national leader. He has wide acceptability among the common people. He is very much concerned with the people of Punjab. He is going to be in Punjab for the Maghi Mela at Muktsar on 14 January. He will do a rally.