The High Court has set aside Election Commission’s order of disqualification of 20 MLAs of AAP in an office of profit case. In a scathing remark High Court cited three reasons for its order:

  1. violation of oral hearing norms by EC and denial to AAP MLAs to present their case
  2. failure of Election Commission to inform AAP MLAs (parties in the case) that OP Rawat (CEC) after recusing himself from the case, has rejoined the proceedings
  3. violation of natural justice

Now the EC will have to re-start the hearing proceedings. This shows the Election Commission and the current BJP government in bad light. Opposition already has been critical of commission’s actions during Gujarat polls. This gives a shot in the arm to anti-government brigade which has been alleging Modi government of belittling the institutions and interfering in their functioning.

This decision provides a big boost to AAP’s dwindling fortunes and couldn’t have come at a better time. Kejriwal is facing flak from Kumar Vishwas supporters for alleged sale of Raja Sabha tickets. AAP is facing rebellion in Punjab unit due to his apology to Mathijia which he accused of being the kingpin of drug mafia. His unconditional apology to Gadkari added fuel to the fire with even some of his staunchest supporters accusing him of going back on his fight against corruption. Social media ridiculed him to the hilt with #KejriwalMangeMaafi trending on twitter.

The order provides a relief to AAP in Delhi, by-polls would have meant its tally reducing significantly, going by the trends of MCD elections. AAP’s brute majority stays put. It also thwarts alleged BJP’s attempts of toppling Kejriwal’s government with help of disgruntled elements like Kumar Vishwas and Kapil Mishra. BJP’s tally stays at a miniscule 3. Ajay Maken’s dream of opening account in the Delhi Assembly gets a big jolt. The Election Commission now being asked to hear the AAP MLAs side means that MLAs in all likelihood will complete their term, going by the fact that it took 3 years to complete a full cycle of investigation and court trial.

Kejriwal thrives on politics of confrontation and is an expert at playing the victim card to the hilt. BJP through its actions again and again – arrest of AAP MLAs, constant tussle with LG, office of profit case – is exposing itself. It clearly shows that Modi-Shah Jodi have not been able to forget about the humiliating loss in Delhi and have not forgiven Kejriwal for stopping BJP’s juggernaut. They want to get back at him, but he keeps on slipping from their hands. This desperation however will not do BJP any good in Delhi. They should leave him alone.

Every time it seems as if Kejriwal’s euphoria is over, BJP provides him with a helping hand. Kejriwal will now accuse BJP of trying to destabilize his government. AAP will again bring in the office of profit issue on national debate. How come some BJP ruled states appoint Parliament Secretaries and get away with it but AAP can’t? How come Shiela Dixit got away with appointing these secretaries with retrospective effect, but it becomes an issue when AAP does it? It will give a chance again to AAP to tell people of Delhi that both Congress and BJP are hand in glove and disrespecting people’s mandate through these misdeeds. Kejriwal will be successful in invoking the sympathy factor and may get a few seats in Delhi in Lok Sabha.

While this order is definitely a big boon for AAP and Kejriwal, he should not lose the focus and start to regain some of the lost ground by working for people of Delhi and making it a model state. He should also focus now on national elections in 2019 and chose either the agrarian distress or unemployment issue. He should try to galvanize these voters. Currently these groups lack national level leadership in order for their voice to be heard.  Kejriwal is smiling again, this order drives away attention from the apology fiasco and provides him with a last chance to get the glory of ‘aam aadmi’ back again.

This article was first published in FirstPost. 

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