A day after Arvind Kejriwal announced his resignation from the post of Delhi chief minister, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) looked set to jump into the Lok Sabha fray with renewed vigour in the face of a scathing attack by the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
While Congress and BJP leaders accused the AAP of going beyond the Constitution to table the jan lokpal bill and triggering instability, the rookie party shifted its focus to the upcoming 2014 general elections.
Senior AAP leader Yogendra Yadav said the AAP, barely 17 months old, would fight the polls under Kejriwal's leadership and dared the Congress and the BJP to form the next government in the Capital.
The AAP has already decided to contest at least 350 Lok Sabha seats. Kejriwal had earlier ruled out fighting the elections. However, later in an interview with two TV channels, Kejriwal had said he might reconsider the decision if the party wanted.
Yadav also said Kejriwal would launch an anti-corruption campaign ahead of the polls in Haryana on February 23. He added the rookie party would come up with its list of Lok Sabha candidates on Sunday after a meeting of the party's political affairs committee.
Moments before, Kejriwal wrote on Twitter, "Friends. This is decisive battle against corruption."
Last month, the AAP had claimed its membership drive had yielded success and it had now more than one crore members. Besides, Kejriwal had also come up with his list "corrupt' politicians and announced his party would field candidates against them.
Meanwhile, Kejriwal's decision to step down on Friday night for failing to table the jan lokpal bill in the Delhi assembly triggered sharp reactions.
Former chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who came under the scanner in the 49-day AAP rule over the illegal colonies controversy and the 2010 Commonwealth Games scam, said, "... I don't think they (the AAP government) succeeded because they started going beyond the constitution... and that is when they really failed."
Referring to the series of controversies during the AAP's short stint in power, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley wrote in his blog, "Thank God, the nightmare is over."
Expelled AAP legislator Vinod Kumar Binny said Kejriwal never really wanted to get the jan lokpal bill passed. "He was just playing politics on this issue and he will continue to do so."
But scores of AAP supporters who thronged the party's office on Friday night did not think so. "What he (Kejriwal) did was correct. There was simply no other way," said Rajnish Kumar, an auto-rickshaw driver.
Refuting the Congress' allegations that the AAP, which had won 28 seats in a stunning debut in the Delhi assembly elections last year, was running away from responsibilities, Prashant Bhushan said the party was left with no option but to quit as implementing jan lokpal bill was the government's top priority.
"From the beginning, Congress and BJP were against this bill and that is why they didn't support the government. They don't want the country to be corruption-free.
"As we were not allowed to pass this bill, we did not have an option but to get out of the government," the AAP leader said.
Yadav reiterated the AAP was the only party committed to the fight against corruption. Now, the lieutenant governor, home ministry and the President should ensure the corruption cases lodged against the previous Congress government and the FIR against Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani reach a conclusion, he said.
After his resignation, Kejriwal had accused the BJP and the Congress of "colluding" against jan lokpal in the wake of the FIR against RIL over revision of gas prices. The allegations have been, however, trashed by the RIL in a statement saying the company would weigh legal remedies "to protect our reputation".
Read: Will Kejriwal contest Lok Sabha elections now?
With PTI, IANS, ANI inputs
HT asks the following questions to understand the political impact of Kejriwal's decision to quit as Delhi CM.