AAP, Cong, BJP back to drawing room for possible 'mini-election'

With Delhi all set for "mini-election" following the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs, the Arvind Kejriwal-led party scrambled to devise a strategy to blunt the fallout of the Election Commission's decision.

The top leaders of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) held a series of meetings, including one where Kejriwal met the 20 MLAs facing action, to formulate strategies to offset any negative impact on the party. A senior leader said they would mount a political and legal counter-offensive.

While the AAP will take the matter to the higher judiciary, sources said they will amplify the arbitrariness in the recommendation by the Election Commission and politically place the decision by targeting retiring Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti. The AAP is expected to play the "victim card" to the hilt and paint the decision as dictated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government.

The AAP will also mount campaigns in constituencies of the affected MLAs by popularising their work as well as that of the government's. Kejriwal and other top AAP strategists would have to be wary of rebels, some of them dubbed as sleeper cells with allegiance to Kumar Vishwas and Kapil Mishra, and will try to keep them under check.

Once President Ram Nath Kovind puts his signature on the order, some leaders also apprehend the possibility of some rebel MLAs, who are close to Vishwas and Mishra, putting in papers and further squeezing the party. Efforts are also on to plug such loopholes, sources said.

The AAP is well aware that a bypoll to 20 seats, if they fail to get any relief from higher courts, would be considered a referendum on the three years of its rule in the capital and could have an impact on the Lok Sabha elections next year.

However, the Congress and the BJP are upbeat at the developing political scene as they feel that the AAP's dream run is going to have an abrupt end. Leaders in both the parties are in the process of chalking out their respective strategies.

Like the AAP, the Congress and the BJP are also moving fast to identify potential candidates for these 20 constituencies and launch its campaign. They are also identifying local problems and rebel AAP members to upset the ruling party electorally.

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