The Mann of Punjab...Meet Bhagwant Mann, the former actor who is now the Chief Minister-elect!

After a fierce battle, Punjab, the state with a high stake in farmers' agitation, has finally elected its Mann as the voters have ousted the Congress regime and vetoed BJP. While both the national parties have been out of the race, Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party has turned heads from across the nation by emerging as the strongest contender against both the national parties. AAP is all set to form the new government in Punjab and its candidate Bhagwant Singh Mann will be the face of Punjab.

Bhagwant Mann needs no introduction for Punjabis, this was the crucial factor that helped AAP to gain a spectacular victory as Mann enjoys a deep connection and a household name in Punjab. He was an actor-comedian and has been an active member of the Aam Aadmi Party for the past eight years. His appearance on TV, Arvind Kejriwal's distinct poll promises, the political tussle within the Congress, and the anti-BJP wave have combinedly made him the Mann of Punjab. 

48-year-old Bhagwant Mann will also be crucial in driving the Aam Aadmi Party from the heart to the rest of the country. The party would be forming the government outside Delhi for the first time. It will also give a chance for AAP to rule a full state unlike Delhi, which is a Union Territory. Punjab had gone to the assembly polls along with Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, and Uttarakhand last month. The votes were counted on Thursday - March 10, 2022. 

In the midst of political tussle within the Congress after the exit of Amarinder Singh, who had then floated a new party and the anti-BJP wave against the contentious farm bills from the Modi regime, it was predicted that Aam Aadmi Party would have a breakthrough and Aravind Kejriwal had held intense campaigning in Punjab and rolled out the promises that were in the fashion of attracting more people. As AAP's CM candidate Mann was more familiar with the people, the Punjabi voters didn't have a second thought in electing Bhagwant Mann. 

The polls in Punjab were held on February 24 and the votes were counted on March 10. Ever since the counting began, AAP was leading the battle and finally, Mann has won the majority to run the state for the next five years. Punjab has 117 seats and according to the Election Commission of India, of these 117 seats, Aam Aadmi Party has won 37 seats and has been leading in another 54 seats. Pushing BJP to the fourth spot, AAP was followed by the Congress party, which has won four seats and has been leading in another 15 seats and Shiromani Akali Dal, which has won one seat and has been leading in another two seats. 

Punjab gave bad news for BJP, which had secured the majority mark in four other states. The victory of Bhagwant Mann has drawn major attention from across India and amid the leading trend, Arvind Kejriwal had met Mann in Punjab. Posing a picture with Mann, Arvind Kejriwal wrote, "Many congratulations to the people of Punjab for this revolution." AAP cadres celebrate the victory by claiming that the party has been emerging as an alternative force for BJP and Congress. 

Mann has contested the polls from the Dhuri constituency, which falls under his home turf Sangrur. The data shows that Mann has secured 82,592 votes in Dhuri, which is 64% of the voter turnout, 60,000 votes more than the Congress candidate Dalvir Singh Goldy, who came second in Dhuri with 24,386 votes. BJP's Randeep Singh had got only 5436 votes. Amid the bright trend to victory, Mann had visited Gurdwara and offered prayers.

He wrote, "Prostrated at Gurdwara Sri Mastuana Sahib. Prayed for the golden future of Punjab and the welfare of all." Mann is a sitting Lok Sabha MP from Punjab and he has been an MP since 2014 from Sangrur. On 18 January 2022, he was chosen as the AAP's candidate for the Chief Minister of Punjab in the 2022 Punjab Assembly polls. He was chosen based on a public poll in which 93% had wanted Mann as the Chief Ministerial candidate. 

As an actor and comedian, Mann had acted in the National Award-winning film 'Main Maa Punjab Dee', helmed by Balwant Dullat. The Punjab Chief Minister-elect had entered politics in 2011 by joining the People's Party of Punjab. In 2012, he contested in the Lehra constituency and lost the race and in March 2014, Mann joined the Aam Aadmi Party and contested in the Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency. He won by over 2 lakh votes and he also won in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. 

Some of the interesting facts about Mann- He has begun an NGO 'Lok Lehar Foundation' to aid children with physical deformities as a result of pollution of groundwater in the border areas of Punjab. Besides his on-screen appearance, Mann has always been in news about raising issues of Punjab. He is a comic poet and also a volleyball player. After the defeat in Punjab and the other states, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has said that he humbly accepts the verdict from the people and expressed his gratitude to the Congress workers for their hard work and dedication. 

Taking to social media, Rahul Gandhi wrote, "Humbly accept the people’s verdict. Best wishes to those who have won the mandate. My gratitude to all Congress workers and volunteers for their hard work and dedication. We will learn from this and keep working for the interests of the people of India." Punjab Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu said, "The voice of the people is the voice of God ….Humbly accept the mandate of the people of Punjab …. Congratulations to Aap!!!" 

Dissented Congress leader Amarinder Singh wrote, "I accept the verdict of the people with all humility. Democracy has triumphed. Punjabis have shown the true spirit of Punjabiyat by rising and voting above sectarian and caste lines. Congratulations to @AAPPunjab and @BhagwantMann."