Sikh Referendum-2020 a non-issue in Punjab: Bhagwant Mann

Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9

The Sikh Referendum-2020 has no basis, need and support in Punjab, announced Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann on Thursday in an exclusive web interview with The Tribune.

He also announced that a strict disciplinary action was likely soon against MLAs Sukhpal Khaira and Kanwar Sandhu, who, he alleged have incited other MLAs and conspired with the ex-alliance partner Lok Insaf Party for last several months to break the AAP.

A meeting of the state party unit held earlier in the day also resolved to see action against Khaira and Sandhu on disciplinary grounds. Sharing the decisions of the meeting, Mann said 20 out of 22 district heads and all five zonal heads besides 90 per cent of the office-bearers attended the meeting showing their support for Arvind Kejriwal.

"The other MLAs supporting him are not part of the conspiracy. They are emotional but not of conniving mind. I am in touch with some of them and soon, they will be back with the party," Mann announced.

Mann's criticism of Referendum-2020 

The Sangrur MP disassociated AAP from the allegations that some of its leaders were justifying the movement if not the demand of Khalistan. Mann said people of Punjab are concerned about unemployment, drug addiction, polluted air and ground water and deteriorating law and order.

Pakistan's ISI and several radical units are allegedly making the Sikh Referendum-2020 movement and especially the August 12 convention in London as a rallying platform for the demand of Khalistan, a separate Sikh state, besides seeking international attention for justice to 1984 Sikh riots accused and killing of innocent youths. The AAP had suffered debacle in the Assembly elections 2017 after its national chief Arvind Kejriwal had allegedly stayed at the house of an ex-Khalistani terrorist.

Indicating his readiness to take over the reins of the party, Mann said he will soon announce his decision on accepting the position of the state party convener. "I had resigned from the post after Arvind ji apologised to former Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia on accusing him of drugs smuggling. I will have a meeting with Arvind ji soon to seek clarification on his action and if convinced I will take over the post."

He added, "Otherwise also, I am in the state only as an active volunteer and I will not let anyone break this party, which came up as per aspirations of the people."

Mann admitted that the party was in crisis and unstable. When pointed out the party has changed six conveners and three Leaders of Opposition so far, which reflects instability and mistrust, Mann said the party is still in the process of churning. "Please remember, it took the BJP more than two decades to win some seats. Our party is just six years old and already it has formed government twice in Delhi and has 20 MLAs and four MPs from Punjab."

He admitted the party made several mistakes. "All parties make mistakes, we too made some, but we are trying to move forward and volunteers are with us."

Sisodia meeting postponed

Meanwhile, the August 13 meeting of Manish Sisodia, in-charge Political Affairs, Punjab, has been postponed to August 26 due to his commitments in New Delhi. Sisodia would participate in a rally on August 26, a party spokesperson said.