Chandigarh: Horse-trading in Indian politics is a common phenomenon, especially around election time. With assembly polls due in Punjab in a few months, the menace seems to have returned.
Not many talk openly about such approaches, but Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Bhagwant Mann has alleged that he was offered money and a Union cabinet berth by an unnamed ‘very senior BJP leader’ as enticement to join the saffron party.
Mann, AAP’s Punjab president, also alleged that the BJP was trying to poach some other AAP MLAs in Punjab, too, with similar allurements.
“I was approached by a very senior BJP leader who asked me what amount of money I would take to join BJP. He also said that since I was the lone MP of AAP, my joining BJP will not attract anti-defection law and I will be offered a cabinet berth of my choice at the Centre,” Mann said at a press conference.
Mann declined the offer as he was “on a mission and not commission”. Having given his blood and sweat to bring up AAP in Punjab, Mann said he was in no mood to abandon the party.
“BJP has no stature in Punjab. Its leaders are not allowed to even enter villages due to the three farm laws that it had enacted and which resulted in the death of more than 700 farmers. No one who has the future of Punjab in mind will join a party which caused the death of so many people in Lakhimpur Kheri,” Mann said.
Mann threatened to make further revelations in course of time.
“Our MLAs and office-bearers have also been approached by BJP. More facts will be revealed later,” he said.
Asked to name the BJP leader who had approached him, Mann said he will do so in due course of time.
“BJP has been doing this in other states like MP, Karnataka, Goa and Meghalaya. They think they can do this in Punjab too. They claim to have broken up Congress also. These are very bad signs in a democracy if parties are sought to be broken through money power,” Mann said.
The BJP dismissed the allegation as a figment of Mann’s imagination.
“These allegations are just an attempt by Bhagwant Mann to increase his own importance in AAP. Lately, he has been sidelined in AAP and therefore he has resorted to such wild allegations against BJP,” claimed BJP’s state general secretary Jivan Gupta.