From Arvind Kejriwal to about a dozen MLAs, the Aam Aadmi Party on Friday fielded a slew of leaders in an attempt to counter the opposition onslaught over Sidhu Moose Wala’s killing as Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann continued to face questions over his government’s handling of the law and order situation.
The AAP faced an unsavoury situation when its legislator Gurpreet Singh faced angry protests ahead of Mann’s visit to Moose Wala’s house. Angry supporters of the Punjabi singer stopped the MLA from entering the house and raised slogans against Bhagwant Mann and the AAP government.
After last-minute confabulations between the district administration officials and Moose Wala’s family, the angry protestors relented and allowed Mann’s visit. The house was completely barricaded to ensure that the CM’s visit went on smoothly.
The meeting, too, raised political temperatures with the opposition alleging that police in civilian clothes surrounded Bhagwant Mann as he met Moose Wala’s parents.
“First snatch security, boast about it and let shooters kill an innocent son of a mother and then make mockery of the bereaved parents’ pain and express fake concern amid tight security,” Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur said on Twitter.
Bhagwant Mann and the AAP had faced severe criticism after ministers and MLAs chose to stay away from the cremation of the Punjabi singer. The government has been under attack for not only pruning the security cover of Moose Wala, but also for “inept” handling of the investigation.
It has been seen as floundering in its decisions as far as the investigation is concerned. It first requested the Punjab and Haryana High Court to set up a judicial commission under a sitting judge, but later constituted an SIT. After criticism that the SIT was weak, the government reconstituted it, adding more senior officials.
The Punjab Police are yet to arrest any of the reported eight assailants who fired at the car carrying Moose Wala and his aides. The team has only been able to arrest one person in the case who allegedly provided the stolen cars to the assailants.
With allegations of slow and tardy probe by the opposition, the AAP is feeling the heat politically. Importantly, the bypoll to the Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency is approaching and the withdrawal of security and its aftermath is leading to questions being raised over AAP’s handling of the state’s law and order machinery.
The task of retaining the seat, vacated by Bhagwant Mann, suddenly seems a huge challenge for the party which is still to complete three months in power.