The arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has created a sympathy wave. Whether this is converted into a positive vote for the Aam Aadmi Party remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that the perception that he has been unfairly dealt with is gaining ground. The relatively small party has sprung back into Delhi politics, after a period of vacillation that had taken off its political edge in recent months.

The hiatus of gloom and despondency that had overtaken AAP after Sanjay Singh was arrested six months ago has strangely enough broken with the arrest of Kejriwal. Its leaders on the ground like Atishi Marlena and Sarabh Bharadwaj sprung into action, holding the fort, even as Kejriwal’s wife spoke out for him as a personal intervention that has worked well with the voters.

A major boost has come from the release of Sanjay Singh by the courts, a strong orator and a courageous leader of the party who has never minced words. His first speech after his release was in form as he made it clear that AAP is not going to compromise despite the attack on it, and will continue with renewed and strong opposition to the ruling party at the centre.

Singh listed the popular schemes brought into Delhi by the AAP government — free bus travel for women, mohalla clinics, education – to drive home his point that the Bharatiya Janata Party wanted AAP out of power because it wanted to take away these pro-people schemes. An argument that will work given the huge sympathy generated for AAP because of Kejriwal’s arrest. There were roars of support from the AAP workers when he said that the party was born out of a movement, and would continue its opposition to ‘tanashahi.’

Besides, Singh’s release by the highest court feeds into the larger perception that Kejriwal is not guilty of corruption, and the charges framed by the government agencies are to harass and as the AAP leaders have been repeatedly saying, demobilise the party. AAP workers have been on the streets ever since Kejriwal’s arrest, and the leaders have clearly come together to fight for survival as they put it. The fact that the Opposition leaders from all states came together to hold AAP’s hand and assure the party of their support has also come as a major boost, and further united the opposition ranks.

The sympathy for Kejriwal has extended to Punjab where AAP Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has been under fire for poor governance, to put it simply. He was losing ground to the other political parties, particularly the Congress with no alliance between the two parties then. Or for that matter now. But Kejriwal has made it clear that theirs is a “friendly fight” with no bitterness and animosity. AAP and Congress will thus contest the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab separately with all candidates now in a four cornered parliament tussle in the state as the BJP and Akali Dal alliance has not held and both parties are contesting the polls separately as well.

However, the Opposition voter weight in Punjab had tilted towards the Congress party but Kejriwal’s arrest has brought AAP back into the picture where the volatile see-saw is evenly balanced at this point.

It is interesting that except for Mayawati and the BSP, all major Opposition parties have rid themselves of the fear of the BJP and the government agencies on the eve of the Lok Sabha polls. Mamata Banerjee has come out in full support of Kejriwal and joined the I.N.D.I.A alliance with renewed vigour. Akhilesh Yadav and the SP who also seemed hesitant at one point is back on the floor. Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, always with the ruling party, has now decided to contest the Lok Sabha seats on his own Biju Janata Dal strength. And interestingly Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Chaudhary who went over to the BJP on the eve of the elections, has gone completely silent in the wake of the new developments that include the farmers' stir.

There is a message being carried through all Opposition platforms, with AAP these days even more resounding than before. “Bring it on, we are not afraid of you” - is the new clarion call, as the leaders make it clear that jail threats, intimidation no longer imprison the Opposition that has come a long way since the last parliamentary elections.