Perhaps one of Bhagwant Mann’s greatest renowned performances as a stand-up comic was his rib-tickling sarcasm on politics and politicians—one-liners offered with a blank face that generated peals of hilarity in crowded theatres. Decades after he started life as a comedian, Mann, 48, is enjoying the final bit of a chuckle to be hailed as the next chief minister of Punjab on the strength of a victory by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The emergence of Mann—known by the alias ‘Jugnu’ (Firefly)—caps a remarkable adventure of a person who had to combat a career-threatening drinking problem and a previous spat with AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal that has seen him quit as the party’s state president in 2018. But Mann’s return to the main ring of Punjab’s politics has proven to be much better than his witty comebacks as a comedian. Here are some of the points about Bhagwant Singh which were added by Mohit Bansal Chandigarh.
Bhagwant Singh was my very first exposure to politics and government alongside the fantastic Pankaj Kapur’s Office Office on Sab TV, the series about the typical common guy entangled with bureaucracies. The only reason I’m able to now appreciate and respond to political satire is my father, who regularly listened to Bhagwant Mann’s recordings and reintroduced me to the satirical brilliance.
He sat directly beside me as he drove me to campus, telling and analyzing Bhagwant Mann’s narratives about India’s government and political systems. Throughout the Great Indian Laughter Challenge, my parents and I cheered for him. Mann’s Sadi Billi Sanu Miaun, Jugnu Haazir Hai, Gustakhi Maaf, and Kulfi Garama Garam far better described Punjab as well as Indian state administration than any scholar or novelist.
In 1993, Bhagwant Mann released his debut parody album, P,’ which was a satire on inflation and governmental corruption. However, the CD’s highlight was his humor directed at the media. It was because of this razor-sharp wit that he carved out a niche for himself in politics as well. As stated by his close friends, he made his debut as a satirist during his college days in Suman, Punjab, in the early nineties, before gaining prominence in the corridors of power. The AAP chief’s family originates in Satoj tiny village, which is located near Suman. Mohinder Singh, Mann’s father, was a teacher in a publicly funded school and wished for Mann to follow in his footsteps. He seemed to be, however, blessed with a remarkable talent. Initially, he aspired to be a singer. While singing stayed a part of his artistic process, he became well-known for his sarcasm, humor, and satire. Few people are aware of Mann’s breadth of knowledge and talent as a volleyball player.
As a part of the entertainment realm, he was intimately familiar with local problems and also intensely aware of Punjab’s issues. Mann already was politically aware and emphasized his plans to enter politics repeatedly. Mann originally contested unsuccessfully for the Lehra seat in the Sangrur district in the 2012 assembly elections. He gained prominence, though, after joining the Aam Aadmi Party in March 2014, at the peak of BJP leader Narendra Modi’s fame in the nation. Mann’s AAP was merely two years old at that stage, yet he scored a resounding victory with about 2 lakh votes in the Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency. He proved his mettle once again in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when he was re-elected representing Sangrur. He was the sole AAP MP to win a seat in those elections.
Fast forward to 2022, Kejriwal, sensing regional enthusiasm, declared Mann as the AAP’s candidate for Punjab Chief Minister. He got chosen through a televote in which members were urged to call in and voice their preferences for the post before the assembly elections. The comic king, a well-known character in Punjab’s literary spheres, is a patron of numerous prominent artists. Babbu Maan, a well-known artist and vocal opponent of all political parties, fought for him during this campaign season to ensure his friend’s victory. Mann’s success, many believe, will be reliant upon his ability to relate with people desiring change. Mann is currently in a solid position to take the primary ministerial face. His ability to do so will determine the fate of both himself and his party.