Our Bureau New Delhi, January 18 The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has announced that Sangrur MP and the party’s Punjab unit president Bhagwant Mann will be its Chief Ministerial candidate. Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal announced the decision on Tuesday. The party had conducted an opinion poll on the CM face. “I congratulate Sardar Bhagwant Mann on being declared CM face of AAP in Punjab. Whole Punjab is looking upto AAP as a hope. Its a huge responsibility and I am sure Bhagwant will bring back smile on the face of every Punjabi,” Kejriwal said. Mann said he is thankful to his party and to the people for making him as the CM candidate. “I will fulfill this responsibility with all my heart to make a prosperous Punjab,” Mann said. The AAP had launched “Janta Chunegi Apna CM” a campaign to select its CM face. The party said over 21.59 lakh people responded to the campaign and selected the 48-year-old MP as the face of AAP campaign. Kejriwal said many people had given his name too. “I had earlier said that I am not in the race and we declared these votes as invalid. Of the remaining votes, 93.3 per cent were in Mann’s favour,” he said. Interestingly, Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu came second in the opinion survey and got 3.6 per cent votes.

Two term MP

Mann is two-term MP of the AAP from Sangrur and has been the party’s most vocal face in the State. “Lakhs of people have reposed their faith in me and it has become my double responsibility. I will work with double courage,” he said and added: “The dream of turning Punjab into Punjab again does not let us sleep, the dream of giving jobs to unemployed youngsters and saving them from drugs does not let us sleep, the dream of turning farming into a remunerative profession does not let us sleep and the dream of providing peace for trade and industry so that employment opportunities are generated also does not let us sleep.” The ruling Congress had given indications the other day that incumbent CM Charanjeet Singh Channi will be its CM face in the elections. Punjab Assembly elections will be held on February 20. The party on Tuesday alleged that the ruling BJP is trying to defame Punjab by conducting Enforcement Directorate’s raids at the residence of a relative of Channi. AICC general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala said the BJP government is insulting a Dalit who was made the Chief Minister of Punjab and the Dalits and backward classes would not forgive the party for this. He added that the AAP is working with the BJP in this and said Kejriwal was the first to attack Channi. Surjewala reiterated his party’s stand that the ED has become the “election department” of the BJP. ”Today we saw the limit of vindictiveness. To seek revenge on a Dalit chief minister, the ED has been unleashed in Punjab, with which the chief minister and his family have nothing to do. The BJP is taking revenge on a Dalit chief minister. The ED is not the enforcement directorate but the BJP’s election department,” he told reporters here on Tuesday. He said it was Kejriwal who gave the first statement on the raids. “In Punjab, Uttrakhand and Goa, the AAP and the BJP are working together. One does a wrong act and the other supports it. Today, when the ED is raiding on baseless charges, Kejriwal launches the first assault. But the people of Punjab know the meaning of a collaboration between Modi and the AAP. Modi has assaulted the dignity of the poor and the Scheduled Castes. They are unable to digest a Dalit as a chief minister. But three crore Punjabis will decide the future,” he said.