Though an official announcement is awaited, Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann is likely to be Aam Aadmi Party's chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming Punjab polls, as per sources.
Just recently, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) notched up an impressive performance in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation elections, winning 14 out of 35 wards in the city, falling a little short of a majority.
Amid infighting in the Congress, and the falling out of the Akali Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the contentious farm laws, AAP has high hopes for the Punjab Assembly elections.
But Why Bhagwant Mann?
The reason why AAP is likely to zero in on Bhagwant Mann as its CM face could have to do with the fact that Mann is the only leader in AAP's Punjab unit with some kind of mass following. He is also the only leader from AAP to have won two consecutive Lok Sabha elections.
Mann is an effective and entertaining speaker and the party's main crowd puller in Punjab besides Arvind Kejriwal. Being the Punjab unit chief of AAP, he is also the main choice of party cadres in the state.
Mann stayed loyal to the party even when several top leaders like Sukhpal Khaira, HS Phoolka, Sucha Singh Chhotepur, Gurpreet Ghuggi left AAP.
Further, being a Jatt Sikh from Malwa, he is in line with the core base of the party.
So, Why the Delay in the Announcement?
For many in AAP Punjab, the question isn't so much why Mann has been chosen but why it took so long for this announcement
The delay took place because AAP was exploring other options. Some also say that the AAP leadership wanted to time it in such a way that the Punjab victory is seen as Kejriwal's victory.
Meanwhile, the chief of Punjab Congress' campaign committee Sunil Jakhar on 29 December, had declared that the party will contest the upcoming state elections under a "joint leadership", delivering a blow to Navjot SIngh Sidhu's hopes for nomination.
Ahead of the polls, Arvind Kejriwal has delivered a bunch of promises, included up to 300 units of free electricity for each household in the state, 24-hour electricity supply and free treatment and medicines at government hospitals if he forms the government.
On 22 November, Kejriwal had announced that every woman in Punjab above the age of 18 will get Rs 1,000/month deposited directly into her account.
(With inputs from Aditya Menon.)