Kiran Bedi, Delhi’s BJP face?

  • BJP thows up an ace
  • Inducts top cop Kiran Bedi
  • Amit Shah says Bedi would contest elections
  • Bedi, presumptive CM

(K Kaushik)

New Delhi, January 15: Soon after the date for filing of nomination in Delhi Assembly elections has arrived, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has thrown up a surprise by inducting top cop and activist Kiran Bedi into the party. Delhi’s best known woman activist Bedi drove to the BJP office along with party president Amit Shah who formally admitted the former into the party on Thursday evening. The BJP chief has confirmed that Kiran Bedi would be contesting elections.

Kiran Bedi, 65, shated the state with Amit Shah, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Dr Harsh Vardhan, union minister and the most popular and accepted BJP leader in Delhi so far. Shah said Bedi’s joining would strengthen the party in the national capital. He was non-committal when asked by reporters whether Kiran Bedi would be fielded against Aam Admi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal. To a question if Kiran Bedi would be a candidate for the post of chief minister, the party president said it is a question to be considered by the party’s parliamentary board.

Bedi, on her part, made it clear that she joined the party on being impressed with the inspirational leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the courst of her speech of acceptance, she has suggestively said that she is bringing to the party more than 40 years of administrative experience. Kiran Bedi said she left the service when overlooked for the post of police commissioner and the job offered to her at that time was not exciting enough to continue.

It is very clear that the AAP has its chief Kejriwal as the chief ministerial candidate while the BJP has not announced any presumptive chief ministerial candidate. After Dr Harsh Vardhan was inducted into the Union Cabinet, there was no tall leader in Delhi BJP who can be posed as a rival to Kejriwal. The idea till yesterday was that Prime Minister Modi would be spearheading the campaign and it would be billed as a fight between Modi Vs Kejriwal. Since Modi is PM and he cannot also be a CM, Kejriwal could try to convince the voters that he would be a better candidate for the post of chief minister than any of the Delhi BJP leaders. But with the induction of Bedi who was a comrade of Kejriwal when both of them were members of the core team led by Anna Hazare for a couple of years before AAP was founded. With the establishment of the political party, Anna Hazare moved away from Kejriwal and even Bedi became indifferent. Among the activists who worked under the leadership of Anna, Bedi was second only to Kejriwal in popularity. After the AAP was formed she was asked by the media if she would take a plunge into politics. All that she replied was that she would cross the bridge when it comes. She made it clear that there was no offer from any political party and if an offer is made she would certainly think about it.

The BJP also was in search of suitable personality to counter Kejriwal. The only option before the BJP leadership was to recall Dr Harsh Vardhan. It appears that the party has decided against that option and settled for Bedi who is a charismatic and dynamic leader. She would be third woman chief minister, if the BJP gets majority of seats and if the BJP legislature party elects her as its leader, after Sushma Swaraj, BJP leader who is now minister of external affairs, and Sheila Dikshit (Congress) who ruled the state for 15 years before losing out to Kejriwal in 2014 election. Kejriwal had beaten Dikshit in New Delhi assemby constituency in the last elections.

It can be safely assumed that Kiran Bedi would be unofficially projected as the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate and she would contest from a seat where the BJP can win easily rather than fielding her against Kejriwal which would be a difficult proposition.  Delhi elections for which polling would take place on February 7 have become more interesting, keener and more colourful with Bedi plunging into the fray.

Arvind Kejriwal, in a commend posted in his face book said she always admired Kiran Bedi and wanted her join politics. He said he is glad that she had taken a decision to join politics.

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