This week, media outlets were perplexed when Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann responded to questions about radical activist Amritpal Sandhu with lengthy descriptions of “social bonding” and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s accomplishments in establishing mohalla clinics and the like.
At a press conference following a cabinet meeting Tuesday, the chief minister had to field questions about Sandhu, who was booked last week for his alleged involvement in a case of rioting and abduction.
The head of a faction of a social organization called Waris Punjab De, Sandhu is never far from controversy. He has been in the spotlight for his provocative statements openly calling for the creation of Khalistan, challenging the CM, ‘threatening’ Union Minister Amit Shah, and ‘daring’ the police to arrest him.
Mann, on the other hand, steadfastly deflected all questions about Sandhu, except to say that “all is well” in Punjab, where the AAP came to power last March.
Mann went off on a tangent about his government’s achievements when asked about Sandhu taking on Amit Shah, who had said last week that the central government would not allow Khalistani elements to raise their heads.
Mann’s refusal to take a position on the issue reflected “irresponsibility,” according to Punjab expert and sociologist Manjit Singh.
“Punjab is a vital state because it is on the international border. Even whispers about Khalistan should be taken seriously by the current government. Mann’s response reflects irresponsibility, not immaturity. And this attitude can lead to major problems,” Singh explained.
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