Punjab Aam Aadmi Party president Bhagwant Mann on Sunday claimed a senior BJP leader offered him money and a place in the Union Cabinet to join their party ahead of the state assembly polls next year. Addressing the media, the Sangrur MP hit out at the BJP for “horse-trading” and asserted that he could not be bought. The BJP has rubbished these allegations and challenged Mr Mann to publicly reveal the name of the leader he is referring to.
Without naming the BJP leader, Mr Mann claimed that he got a call four days ago and was asked, “Mr Mann, tell me what do you want to join the BJP? Do you want money?” The AAP leader further claimed that the leader suggested since he was the only AAP MP, anti-defection law doesn’t apply to him, and that he would be made a cabinet minister in the union government. “Tell me what portfolio you’d like,” he quoted him as saying.
Citing examples of Goa, West Bengal, and Madhya Pradesh, Mr Mann accused the BJP of basing their politics around poaching leaders from other parties.
“I told him I am on a mission, not on commission. There’s no money that can buy Bhagwant Mann,” he said, adding that he left a well-paying job to work for the party. The BJP is trying to buy the faith people have put on me and our party workers, he added.
BJP’s Punjab General Secretary Subhash Sharma has called it Mr Mann’s attempt to stay relevant and be in the limelight. “I challenge Mr Mann to reveal the name of the BJP leader so that the truth is out in front of the people but he won’t do so, because it’s AAP’s nature to make false allegations and then hide. Arvind Kejriwal did the same, he would apologise after defamation cases were filed against him,” he said.
When asked to name the BJP leader, he said he would disclose it at “the right time”.
Mr Mann said the BJP doesn’t have any base in Punjab and that their meetings and rallies are sparsely attended. “They are hated here,” he said. He further hit out at BJP, calling it, “the party that has killed 750 farmers, the party that ran over farmers like insects in Lakhimpur Kheri.”
Sources confirm this might also be a subtle message from him to the party as he has reportedly been unhappy about not being officially named the Chef Ministerial candidate. “BJP thinks I have some quarrel with the party; I have no quarrel with the party. Sometimes within the party, you have issues like in a family, but we will resolve it internally,” he said.
Rushing to damage-control mode, AAP Punjab in-charge Raghav Chadha has said all party MPs and MLAs will have their phone call-recording turned on so that they can record if any BJP leader tries to offer money or anything else to poach party leaders.
BJP’s Mr Sharma has said that it’s a stunt by Mr Mann to get more importance in his own party because it is neither making him the CM face nor is he getting any importance within AAP. “There are massive hoardings in Punjab with Mr Kejriwal’s pictures and no sign of Bhagwant Mann so he is making such statements to be in the limelight,” he said.