Bhagwant Mann, 43, is a stand-up comedian turned politician and AAP MP from Sangrur.
A day after he was appointed the Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) Punjab chief, lawmaker Bhagwant Mann said today that he had never put pressure on anyone in the party to give him the position. He assured that he would take all members of the party, including volunteers, to form an "effective" opposition and that his main challenge was to take the AAP back to its "peak" in Punjab.
Yesterday, AAP's outgoing state convener Gurpreet Singh Waraich 'Ghuggi' had questioned the "urgency" of appointing Mr Mann as the new Punjab president and also asked under "what pressure" was this decision taken.
Moreover, the AAP's MLA from Bholath, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, offered to resign from the posts of chief whip and spokesperson following the appointment.
Mr Mann, the Sangrur MP, describing himself as a soldier of the party and said, "If there are volunteers, who are disappointed with the poll results, I will persuade them to come back."
In a major shake-up, the AAP, in a meeting chaired by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, had announced Mr Mann as its Punjab chief and Sunam MLA Aman Arora as co-president. Sarabjit Kaur Manuke, AAP's Jagraon MLA, was appointed deputy leader of the legislature party in the Assembly.
Mr Mann said within a week, he will take over the state unit of the party and set in motion the restructuring of the Punjab unit by forming new teams at the district and block levels, besides announcing heads of various wings.
"After forming the new teams, I will go to people of Punjab and ask them to raise their voice on the implementation of promises like debt waiver and raising old age pension made by Amarinder Singh-led state government," he said.
"It is the responsibility of the opposition to raise issues concerning people," Mr Mann said.
On Mr Waraich's remarks, he said, "Gurpreet is a good friend of mine. We have worked together for 20 years. It was I who told him to be the state convener following the Sucha Singh Chottepur issue."
"It (appointing him state chief) is an internal decision of the party. There is no competition with Ghuggi. Even today, I spoke to him and he told me that he was going out of state for shooting. Yes, there may be some agreements or disagreements over some issues. It normally happens in families. I will take him along," Mr Mann added.