Bhagwant Mann tackled rivals’ digs at his past drinking problem in an interview to NDTV.

Chandigarh/ New Delhi:

Bhagwant Mann, named the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP’s) presumptive Chief Minister for Punjab after an unusual public televote, said he could now honestly say he is from the “public quota”.

In an interview to NDTV, the two-time AAP MP tackled rivals’ digs at his past drinking problem.

“I have been facing this but Punjab has given me a stamp. They have nothing else to say on me. There is no corruption, no Enforcement Directorate raids, no Income Tax raids, I have a clean image…I still live in a rented house…They have been saying this for me for 11 years,” Bhagwant Mann, 48, said.

“But people have given me big wins after that. I have been the best performing Punjab MP in the Lok Sabha. I did the most number of rallies. All this talk is baseless,” he told NDTV.

Mr Mann and AAP were often ridiculed over the MP’s drinking. He was accused of coming to public events drunk.

The comic-turned-politician took a vow to never drink again at an AAP event in 2019, with his mother by his side.

“I want a Punjab where there is no dharna (protests), where an unemployed girl doesn’t set herself on fire, where people don’t have to jump into canals. I want to restore Punjab to its former glory,” Mr Mann said.

On allegations that AAP tickets were being sold to candidates, Mr Mann said: “Give me one instance and I will quit my seats. But corruption will not do in our party.”

Mr Mann said in parliament, whenever he raised farmers’ suicides in Punjab, MPs from the south approached him and asked, “Farmer suicides happen in Punjab too? But we thought Punjab is very vibrant and colourful”.

“I told them that is only seen in ads of political parties. I want the Punjab it was earlier,” Mr Mann said.

He shared that AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal had told him earlier that he was the party’s choice for Chief Minister. “But I said let us do one last thing. It has never been done before. Let’s ask for public feedback,” he said on the AAP televote asking people to mail or message their choice.

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