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Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Bhagwant Mann is all set to take oath as the chief minister on Wednesday, 16 March, after the party swept the Punjab Assembly elections.
Mann garnered 82,592 votes in Dhuri, nearly 60,000 more than Congress' Dalvir Singh Goldy (24,386). As per Election Commission (EC) data, Mann received 64.29 percent of the votes.
AAP won 92 seats in the 117-member Assembly, while the Congress won 18 seats, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) bagged three seats and the BJP won two seats.
Ahead of the 2022 Assembly polls, there was a Bhagwant Mann surge in many of the districts in Punjab's Malwa region, that accounts for 69 of the state's 117 seats.
Who Is Bhagwant Mann?
Mann, who heads AAP's Punjab unit, and is a two-term and sitting MP from Sangrur parliamentary constituency, will become the next Punjab chief minister.
He had risen to prominence after defeating Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) veteran and former union minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Born in 1973 in Sangrur district’s Satoj village, Mann is a popular Punjabi comedian and actor, known for the television show 'The Great Indian Laughter Challenge.' Mann successfully runs an NGO, Lok Lehar Foundation, to help children with physical deformities from groundwater pollution along Punjab’s border.
The leader has also been mired in several controversies in the past.
He was termed as an alcoholic, though he had refuted the claim stating that he was just a social drinker. In 2019, Mann vowed not to drink anymore.
In 2021, Mann had informed that he and his wife Inderpreet Kaur had separated in 2015 because of politics. "Politics means staying with the public," he had said.
He had also stirred up a row when he filmed the security pickets on Parliament premises.
How Had Bhagwant Mann Fared in the 2017 Polls?
In 2017, Mann had contested in the Punjab Assembly elections from Jalalabad against the SAD's Sukhbir Singh Badal, and had lost by 18,500 votes.
In 2014, Mann had defeated Shiromani Akali Dal veteran and former Union minister Sukhdev Singh Sindhi in Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency by over two lakh votes.
Mann has been a member of the Aam Aadmi Party since 2014, and is presently serving as a Lok Sabha MP from the Sangrur constituency of Punjab. Mann was the only AAP leader to win the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from the Sangrur constituency.
From 2012 to 2014, he had been a member of Manpreet Badal's People's Party of Punjab.
Mann's Post-Victory Promises
Addressing a gathering after his win from Dhuri, Mann garnered praise from the audience as he announced that the oath-taking ceremony will take place in the ancestral village of the renowned freedom fighter Bhagat Singh, Khatkarkalan, in Nawanshahr district.
"The oath-taking ceremony will not be held at Raj Bhawan, but at Khatkarkalan. The date will be announced later," he stated in his victory speech in Dhuri.
With this, Mann made an announcement that the government offices, from now on, will not have the chief minister's photograph, instead comprise photos of Sardar Bhagat Singh and BR Ambedkar.
The AAP leader's first order of business, after taking the CM seat, will be focused on health, schools, safety of women, industry, making agriculture profitable, and improving sports infrastructure.
"You will start seeing the change in Punjab within one month."AAP Leader Bhagwant Mann
He further assured people who did not vote for AAP, saying that they won't need to worry since the government will be working for every section of the society.
When Elected to Power, ‘We Will Make Punjab Punjab Again’
Ahead of the results, Mann had said that for him, "CM means common man" and said that he won't let it go into his head if he becomes the Chief Minister. "Fame has always been part of my life," he said.
"I will still go amidst people and work with them, for them. I don't think my politics will mess my head if I become Chief Minister. Nothing is new for me," he told NDTV.
He took a dig at Congress saying "Punjab is filled with mafia" and vowed to restore the state to its former glory.
"They have left nothing...sand mafia, land mafia, cable mafia, transport mafia...excise mafia. Punjab filled with mafia. My Punjab is a Punjab of dreams...People want the old Punjab back," he said.
"We will make Punjab, Punjab again. No need to turn it into Paris, London, or California. It was their (other parties) dreams, and they are losing."Bhagwant Mann, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader
How Many Seats Had AAP Won in 2017?
The AAP had secured 20 out of the 117 seats in Punjab in 2017, trailing far behind the Congress which had won 77 seats at the time.
For this year, the News24-Today's Chanakya exit polls had projected that the AAP would win 100±10 seats in Punjab. The India Today-India My Axis exit poll results had predicted that the party would win 76-90 seats.
A total of 59 seats is required to form majority in the 117 member-strong Punjab state Assembly.