As the crowd swells in front of the Aam Aadmi Party office in Delhi, it's clear that the dramatic resignation of Arvind Kejriwal has boosted the morale of AAP supporters, who are braving the untimely rain in Delhi to show solidarity.
The Aam Aadmi Party seems to have achieved exactly what it wanted from the entire fiasco regarding the passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill. The supporters see the young political outfit as a martyr of a corrupt political system. "The BJP and the Congress together conspired against AAP to make sure it cannot continue in the government," said one supporter, echoing the common sentiment.
But far bigger battles lie ahead, and AAP seems to itching for them, as is apparent in the list of candidates released on Sunday for the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. The 20 candidates announced today will take on a number of bigwigs of national politics, mostly heavyweights of the Congress and BJP, and have been chosen with great care.
Anjali Damania, who is being projected as the contender to BJP's Nitin Gadkari, earlier initiated a mini-battle against the former BJP president when she along with Arvind Kejriwal accused Gadkari of financial corruption relating to his Purti Group. A corporate icon like Meera Sanyal, on the other hand, has been fielded from the high profile South Mumbai constituency where she may pose a significant threat to the sitting MP, Congress's Milind Deora. Though Deora, one of the younger crop of politicians in India, is popular among his urban voters, the anti-incumbency sentiment may help a fresh, and equally attractive prospect like Sanyal carry the day.
Kumar Vishwas, sticking to earlier predictions, has been fielded from Amethi against the sitting MP Rahul Gandhi. Medha Patkar, who was until now not certain on fighting on an AAP ticket, has been fielded from the Mumbai North East constituency held currently by the NCP's Sanjay Dina Patil.
The other notable decision is to pit former journalist Ashutosh against Union Minister Kapil Sibal from Chandni Chowk, Delhi. If vote share in the last Assembly election in Delhi is any indication, the Aam Aadmi Party has a huge lead over both Congress and BJP here. Chandni Chowk has also been given great importance by Arvind Kejriwal, being one of the areas where he conducted a referendum on the Lokpal during the anti-corruption protests.
Yogendra Yadav is the biggest AAP name in the mix today. And his candidacy from Gurgaon confirms what AAP leaders have been saying all along, ie NCR will be a big target for AAP. Yadav, who has been lately addressing rallies in Haryana, has relentlessly campaigned in Gurgaon, which as satellite city of the capital resembles Delhi in terms of voter profile. Projecting Yadav may prove to be the smart choice as the sitting MP of Gurgaon, ex-Congressman Rao Inderjit Singh, recently joined BJP causing a political stir.
Another smart choice is the selection of lawyer HS Phoolka as the party's candidate from Ludhiana against Union minister of Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari. Phoolka who has been relentlessly fighting for the justice of the 1984 Sikh riots victim has recently joined the AAP. "Especially after Rahul Gandhi's recent remarks on the Sikh riots it should help someone like HS Phoolka to get a large number of Sikh votes and specially against a Congress MP," says an AAP insider.
The AAP strategy on taking on the big guns is clear: They are aiming for not just LS seats, but also to inflict serious political embarrassment.
The omissions, however, are no less intriguing. Sunday's list does not include key leaders such as Sanjay Singh and Prashant Bhushan, and most importantly, AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal. According to sources, Kejriwal might take on Modi in case the BJP's prime minister candidate decides to contest from any place other than Gujarat.
Today's list has mostly named candidates from northern India, and apart from the selection of farmer leader Lingaraj from Odisha's Bargarh constituency, it leaves out most of the southern and eastern states.