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Prodded by Bhagwant Mann, AAP Punjab MLAs rush to constituencies, focus on schools & hospitals

The CM-designate, in 1st address to MLAs after poll victory, had directed them to spend more time in their constituencies rather than in Chandigarh. Mann will take oath as CM on 16 March.

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Chandigarh: The Aam Aadmi Party, which recorded a landslide victory in Punjab Thursday — winning 92 out of 117 assembly seats — is losing no time in proving to the state its eagerness to deliver on its poll promises.

Several newly-elected AAP Punjab MLAs told ThePrint Saturday that they had visited schools and hospitals in their respective constituencies Saturday and met officials heading them, to enquire about day-to-day issues, instead of spending time in the state capital of Chandigarh, ahead of government formation on 16 March.

The MLAs statements come a day after CM-designate Bhagwant Mann, in his first address to MLAs after the poll results, directed them to spend more time in their constituencies. Mann in his address Friday — broadcast live on the party’s social media handles — had also asked the legislators to be open to suggestions from other states. The CM-designate also said that there will be 17 cabinet posts, excluding that of the CM, but refrained from disclosing role allocations.

Earlier on Friday, Mann had travelled to Delhi to meet AAP national convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. The party had then announced that the two will be jointly participating in a victory rally on 13 March and Mann shall take oath as Punjab CM on 16 March.

Mann then met Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit Saturday to stake his claim to the government. The CM-designate also met a group of bureaucrats and top police officials, ahead of his swearing-in ceremony.

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Kejriwal’s message of ‘no discrimination’

Speaking to ThePrint Saturday, AAP MLA from Amloh constituency Gurinder Singh said, “We have started visiting schools and hospitals in our constituencies. They are clearly in poor shape. We have also met officers heading them and discussed what steps need to be taken immediately to resolve problems at the earliest.”

Several other MLAs reached by ThePrint echoed his words.

“Our primary poll plank was improving schools and hospitals and we want to waste no time in starting work in these areas,” said Labh Singh Ugoke, the party’s MLA from Bhadaur.

In his speech to MLAs Friday, held at a prominent hotel in Mohali, Mann had said, “All MLAs must ensure that they work more from areas from which they were elected. Spend maximum time in your constituencies and not in Chandigarh (Punjab’s capital). If there is any issue that needs to be resolved, take officers with you.”

Mann had also indicated Thursday that he will take oath as CM in Khatkarkalan village, home of the legendary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh, and not at the Raj Bhawan in Chandigarh.

As the AAP MLAs left the hotel after Mann’s address, many had said they would immediately leave for their constituencies. At least 12 MLAs, who had told ThePrint before the meeting that they shall be spending the night in Chandigarh, later changed their decision, calling it an order from the “high command”.

Mann had also told MLAs about the need for states to work together.

“When we are in government, we will be getting suggestions and ideas from multiple states — Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, etc. And Delhi too. We should be open to those ideas. We must remember we are one nation.”

He had added: “Arvind Kejriwal has one message for us — we should not engage in any sort of discrimination. There are 17 cabinet ministries in the state government covering schools, hospitals, power, industry, etc. And then there is the CM’s post. The MLAs who do not get cabinets should not be disappointed. In our governance model, all MLAs will be given responsibilities like ministers.”

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

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