By any reckoning, Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is the most maverick politician in the country today. As the battle for three states looms and his government is reduced to a joke in Delhi thanks to the machinations of Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, what will Kejriwal do next?

Step aside

b’Sisodia will no longer remain in the background | Source: Screengrab’

Manish Sisodia, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister will formally take over as chief minister leaving Kejriwal to become the chairperson of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), like Sonia Gandhi became the chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance.

Sisodia is also less aggressive than Kejriwal so perhaps the BJP won’t see the advantage of fighting a battle of attrition and confrontation against him to win voters’ hearts.

Keep a line open with Navjot Sidhu 

b’So far the AAP has refused to bend on its rule on giving party tickets for Sidhu’

Sources also reveal that Navjot Sidhu is still in touch with AAP’s local leaders in Punjab while they try to resolve the conundrum about including him. 

However, AAP has firmly ruled out that he will be projected as the party’s chief ministerial candidate or will be in the running for it later. AAP has also ruled out both him and his wife getting a ticket from the party since it will violate the party’s rule of making only one member of a family a candidate. 

Show off his governance skills if he gets the chance

Depending on the number of seats the AAP wins in Punjab, Kejriwal could even take over as Punjab Chief Minister if the verdict is anything like the one they received in Delhi.

However, if AAP needs allies to form the next government in Punjab, then this scenario is entirely ruled out.

b’Kejriwal might need to take some tough calls | Source: PTI’

Kejriwal is absolutely clear he no longer wants AAP to be seen as a “dharna party” so forming the government in Punjab is crucial to actually present a viable model of governance. This has been denied to him in Delhi thanks to Lieutenant Governor Jung and the continuous battle which has seen 13 AAP MLAs being arrested so far.

If AAP wins power in Punjab the first thing Kejriwal will do is bring in his dream legislations – the Lokpal and Swaraj bills. It will also give him a chance to show the Delhi voter that he wanted to deliver on promises but a sore BJP did not let him. 

Build a national alliance against Modi

Kejriwal is going to quietly cobble together an opposition to take on the BJP on the national stage.

b’Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee during a past meeting | Source: PTI’

Kejriwal has reached out to other political leaders who are perceived as being incorruptible such as Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. This could be the axis of an anti-Modi, anti-BJP front in the 2019 general elections.

If the BJP thought that with the perpetual battles in Delhi they had tied down Kejriwal they are wrong. It has instead freed him up to focus on Punjab and Gujarat (Modi’s citadel). The focus on Gujarat is evident in the recent bonhomie between by Kejriwal and the leader of the Patidar agitation in Gujarat, Hardik Patel.

Kejriwal is clear that the AAP will contest all upcoming state elections and as the head of the party he will hit the campaign trial attacking bête noire Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the same intensity that he did in the 2014 general elections.

b’The war of words between the two leaders has been intensexc2xa0′

AAP, which has made other parties uncomfortable with its transparent funding system and Kejriwal’s fierce attacks on corruption, will continue to use this as the party’s USP. They plan to contrast this with what they claim is Modi’s generosity towards cronies.

Kejriwal also made Modi eat humble pie in Delhi and broke the BJP’s winning run. And the manner in which the BJP has gone after Kejriwal has only added to his national stature and he has emerged as the fiercest Modi critic in the past two-and-a-half-years. 

All of the BJP’s attempts to bottle him up in Delhi have failed. The AAP as a party has always been audacious, and it’s ambitions have sky-rocketed after the BJP’s attacks on it.

b’Kejriwal and Modi during a past meeting | Source: PTI’

With Modi being proclaimed as the “Uri Avenger” and the BJP trying to cash in on the ‘surgical strikes’ ahead of the fiercely contested Uttar Pradesh state elections, expect Kejriwal to spend a lot of time in the state. The AAP chief will dog Modi wherever he goes and call him out on his claims constantly. 

Arun Shourie, a former minister in the NDA government but presently BJP’s huge critic, had said that as PM candidate, Modi was unnerved by Kejriwal and regular presentations were made on AAP’s campaign to him in Gandhinagar. 

The Prime Minister, who is going to be the BJP’s face in the state polls, may need a lot more of those in the coming days.