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Mann walks out of Kejriwal shadow, Congratulates state for winning the biggest challenge

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann

In what comes across as his political ‘coming of age’ as Aam Aadmi Party leader, Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann today congratulated the state for triumphing it’s biggest challenge. Hours after the arrest of Khalistani activist Amritpal Singh, Mann addressed the thanking people for upholding peace and harmony and promised a better future henceforth. “The person who was misleading youth and threatened our integrity has been arrested. We want our youth to be highly educated, excel in academics and sports all over the world rather than being notorious for such attacks. I am thankful to the people of Punjab to have stood together for peace. I had a sleepless night yesterday anticipating what all complications could occur during arrest but all went well and everything is peaceful”, said a confident Mann.

The address was seen as Mann finally stepping out of the shadow of AAP supremo and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. Mann ever since taking over as CM was always seen as trailing and was often ridiculed as rubber stamp CM. Though Amritpal crackdown has also highlighted Punjab and Centre coordination, while AAP is fighting fiercely with it in Delhi. It was on April 22 that Union Home minister Amit Shah while addressing a conclave in Karnataka had announced that Amritpal could be nabbed anytime.” There is no Khalistani wave in Punjab and he will be caught anytime,” He had said. Shah generously praised Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann for handling Amritpal Singh’s crisis in Punjab which left the political circles abuzz. The praise which comes on close heels of similar appreciation from Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has Congress training its guns at Mann government calling it the B team again.

“What more proof does anybody need while they are at war in Delhi, senior BJP leaders are all out praising Mann government. This government is their B team and Bhagwant Mann is the prop. The entire episode was orchestrated to disrupt harmony of state. Politically he is headed to be Eknath Shinde of Punjab. They have been hand in glove since day 1. They are playing a political WWE and everything is staged,” Partap Singh Bajwa, senior congress leader and LoP, Punjab, told Indianarrative.com.

It may be noted that Bhagwant Mann’s meeting with Amit Shah on March 2 had set the rumour mills spinning. Mann after meeting Shah had declared that putting state’s interests on priority he had sought liberal funds for curtailing the drug menace and modernising the police. This meeting was close to the heels of the attack on Ajnala police station led by Amritpal. The centre dispatched 30-40 companies of central armed police forces and Mann insisted that this was on his recommendation. Then came the crackdown on March 18 and it was professed as the Centre orchestrated it. Though credit was given and well received by Bhagwant Mann for stepping out of AAP’s health and education model and facing this law and order challenge. Everybody however had a common question: when they couldn’t keep a small associate of Amritpal in jail what changed in days that they executed a well-planned crackdown and arrested Amritpal on April 23. Mann in today’s address has even answered that,” We could have nailed him in Ajnala but he carried Palki of Guru Granth Sahib as his shield. The cops were clear not to harm its sanctity in any ways and the act was appreciated across the world,” said Mann.

As evident from the events, the Centre had been nudging the Punjab government to crackdown Amritpal and his ambitious plans and the Ajnala incident provided the right trigger. It was a well-planned crackdown with every single detail reportedly being worked out at a meeting of senior Home ministry officials, Intelligence agencies and Punjab police officials. It was apparently at this meeting that it was decided to send all arrested to Assam even though CM insisted it was interstate police understanding.

“The issue pertains to national security and when it comes to safeguarding it politics has no role. It is the good work of the Aam Admi Party that has forced its political opponents to praise it and not any connivance”, AAP’s Punjab chief spokesperson Malwinder Kang told this reporter.

According to a CAG report released in March this year, the state is currently facing a debt of 2.6lac crores which will cross 5 lac crores in ten years.

The political experts however differ and say this has got everything to do with politics. “Mann led AAP government inherited a state deep in financial crisis. It is virtually impossible for any state government to save the crumpling economy without Centre’s cooperation. The crisis worsens as Punjab is a border state and has characteristic drug and law and order situation”, said a retired bureaucrat on the condition of anonymity.

According to a CAG report released in March this year, the state is currently facing a debt of 2.6lac crores which will cross 5 lac crores in ten years.