Jolt for Kejriwal: MP Bhagwant Mann breaks ranks with AAP, says EVMs not behind party's loss in Punjab polls

Aam Aadmi Party's Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann said the party lost Punjab not because of any tampering of EVMs, but due to the blunders committed by the party's leadership.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Lok Sabha MP from Sangrur in Punjab, Bhagwant Mann, has held the party's leadership responsible for defeat in the state Assembly elections. Breaking his silence after the Punjab state polls, Mann adopted a strident tone and attacked the AAP leadership.

Mann said AAP lost Punjab not because of any tampering of EVMs, but due to the blunders committed by the party's leadership. He blamed the leadership for "committing grave blunders in preparing strategy" for the Punjab Assembly election.

Talking to Hindi Daily Dainik Jagran, Mann indicated that he was considering the option of exploring alternatives. Coming down heavily on AAP leadership, he said the party functions like a "mohalla cricket team".

Mann's attack on the AAP leadership comes on the day when the result for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) election was announced and the party performed miserably in it. In this context, Mann's attack comes as a double whammy for the party leadership, particularly Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

MANN MUM SINCE AAP LOST PUNJAB

Mann had been maintaining a stoic silence since the results of the Punjab Assembly elections were announced on March 11. AAP, which had been claiming a historic mandate in the state, suffered a humiliating defeat.

Mann himself had contested against the then deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and lost.

The Sangrur MP said that the decisions taken by the AAP leadership before the Punjab polls had deeply hurt him.

He said, "No irregularities were found in the EVMs. AAP did not lose because of EVMs. The party could not come to power because of the blunders committed by the AAP leadership in preparing the election strategy. Top leaders should find out the blunders and review them."

Mann said he had worked hard during the elections and addressed 400 public rallies.

On his future political move, the AAP MP said he was on leave and was away from the party's political activities. "I am preparing to visit the United States to meet my children. I will deliberate on it (future political move) after returning in May-end," he said.

WILL DECIDE NEXT POLITICAL MOVE AFTER RETURNING FROM US: MANN

Elaborating on his plans, Mann said he was deliberating on all options available before him. He would take a final decision after coming back from the US.

Ever since the Punjab elections results have been announced, Mann has remained aloof from AAP's political activities. He neither campaigned in the Rajouri Garden Assembly bye-elections nor in the just-concluded Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) polls.

He said, "I have shared all my concerns with AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal. I have also apprised him of the blunders committed by the party's leadership even though the people's inclination was towards AAP. People were attending AAP's rallies by skipping their jobs. But the party failed to take advantage of that."

He said in the absence of a chief ministerial candidate, AAP's condition in Punjab had become like a mohalla cricket team where each player decides himself when he will bat, field or bowl.

"Before the elections, everyone was curious to know who the chief minister would be if AAP won. Unfortunately, the party leadership added to the confusion by issuing ridiculous statements. It had a direct bearing on the party's chances of a win. Without a chief ministerial candidate, no one is ready to accept responsibility for the party's defeat," he said.

OPPOSED CANDIDATURE OF MANY FOR PUNJAB POLLS: BHAGWANT MANN

Mann said he had opposed the candidature of several people. "However, instead of replacing them, the party gagged me. I too kept silent for fear of raising a storm. Had a rebellious tone been raised at that point in time, I would have been blamed for AAP's defeat," he said.

Mann also raised questions over fielding former MLA from Rajouri Garden Jarnail Singh in Punjab Assembly election. He said this led to confusion among the people over the AAP's CM candidate.

He blamed the overconfidence of some leaders associated with the AAP's central leadership for ruining the party's chances.

Also read |