Kejriwal aware of Mann’s drinking habits : suspended AAP MPs
Chandigarh/ Oct.27, 2015
Controversy over AAP MP Bhagwant Mann’s drinking habits has left the party red-faced and some of his old party colleagues are terming him as a habitual drinker. His drinking habits has been a top trend of twitter too with people cracking jokes on Mann and AAP. Party’s suspended MPs Dharmvir Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa was quoted by Punjabi media saying that Arvind Kejriwal is also aware of Mann’s habit and they brought the issue to the notice of party leadership many times in the past.
“We had discussed the drinking habit of Mann with Kejirwal and had even cautioned that one day he would bring embarrassment to the party as he often comes to Parliament drunk. Kejriwal was also concerned about Mann’s habit.” said Harinder Singh Khalsa.
“Informally, it has been our agenda within the party to find out ways and means to get Mann out of the drinking habit. I even suggested shifting him to a de-addiction centre,” said Khalsa.
“Once Kejriwal questioned me why I don’t sit next to Mann in Parliament? I told him that he comes drunk to the House and I cannot stand the foul smell. It’s a well known fact that he is a drunkard.” I even suggested him to switch to vodka instead of whiskey as it smells less,” added Khalsa.
Patiala MP Dharamvira Gandhi was also quoted by the media: “I was concerned over his drinking habit and suggested Kejriwal to counsel him. Mann is in early 40s and can be nurtured as a popular leader in Punjab, provided he quits drinking. I am disappointed that due to his habit, the party’s prospects have received a setback in Punjab.”
Former party leader Yogender Yadav also tweeted: “#drunkbhagwantmaan is an open secret in AAP. Prashant Bhushan and I had objected to it.”
While talking to the media, Yadav later said: “I discovered it first in July 2014 when party had called a meeting of all its Lok Sabha candidates. Mann was sitting next to me and was drunk. I told this to Kejriwal. Later, I came to know that he used to attend Parliament sessions while being drunk.”
Punjab media also published a statement of Congress leader Harminder Gill. He claims to be present at the religious ceremony at Baragri on Sunday. “Mann came with Sucha Singh Chhotepur but didn’t sit on the stage. Later, on request of some Sikh leaders, he came on the stage and sat next to me and Sukhpal Khaira. Mann was drunk and Giani Jagtar Singh, who was sitting next to him, asked him to leave.” said Harminder Gill.
Bhagwant Mann issued a statement on the issue on his facebook page. Dismissing the allegation, he termed the incident a well-planned conspiracy. “It’s wrong that I was drunk. I can’t even think of going to a religious congregation drunk. It’s a conspiracy to divert the people’s attention from the core issues of Punjab. I will keep fighting for the cause of Punjab.” he wrote.
Bhagwant Mann is a popular leader in the state today and his opponents see this as an opportunity to defame him, while his supporters are saying that this is a conspiracy by his political rivals.
Senior Punjabi journalist and commentator Kanwar Sandhu says that as it is not possible to prove these allegations now, it is better to move forward and need to focus on the real issues of the state. While talking on radio show ‘ South Asian Pulse’ with host Yudhvir Jaswal, Sandhu said that though it is a matter of his personal choices, Mann needs to be careful about his habits as he is popular leader in the state these days.
It’s not the first time that Mann was found drunk in public. He was under the influence of liquor when he was addressing a press conference at the Chandigarh Press Club which was called to raise the issue of abducted Indian youth by IS in Iraq.