Will ’K’ factor be a boon for BJP in Delhi polls?

Delhi goes to the polls on February 7. The BJP is keen to win after 2013 loss when the AAP had formed a minority government and ruled the capital for 49 days before its leader Kejriwal resigned. Delhi has been under President’s rule since then. Manay political changes can be seen in the Delhi election. A desperate shift of the candidates fron one party to other is done. The major rivals are AAP and BJP.Congress is a distant third in the election. However, it pretends to be in the race. Above all, the entry of the first lady police officer Kiran Bedi into BJP has changed the whole political game, say the Delhites.

The induction of Kiran Bedi in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is an attempt by the party to fill the vacuum created after Dr. Harshvardhan was moved to the Centre, and to give a face to the poll campaign ahead of the Delhi Assembly Elections 2015. Since her entry into the BJP, speculations are rife that the former IPS officer may become the party’s chief ministerial face for Delhi.

The BJP mainly relied on the charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the previously held assembly polls in the country, but in Delhi it needs a face to counter Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal. No doubt, the selection of Kiran Bedi is yet another intelligent move by BJP’s poll strategist Amit Shah. But still doubt prevails over the clear mandate. For the same middle class who supports Modi also favours Arvind Kejriwal. So the competition is tough between the two parties. The million dollar question, however, is, will Kiran Bedi’s entry into the party come as a boon to the party, or will it spell disaster for it?

There are political interests and strategies that are put across in the public domain with certain perception.Like in the Lok Sabha elections 2014, BJP is trying to make the Delhi polls a battle of two faces. The BJP is projecting Kiran Bedi as a candidate with a clean image, but there has indeed been several blots on her career so far. Kiran Bedi, while joining the BJP, said that her administrative experience will help her to serve the nation politically. Questions were raised on her administrative career by the veteran journalist Karan Thapar who had written, “She didn’t complete her tenure as Superintendent of Police in Goa, DIG (Range) in Mizoram, Inspector General (Prisons), Tihar Jail and Inspector General of Police in Chandigarh.” 

Attacking Bedi, he said she left her post in Goa and Mizoram without permission. Would Bedi love to run away from responsibilities like Arvind Kejriwal did? Though Bedi denies all the charges, this actually works as the fuel to raise fire. People are in a confused state of mind. Media have also played their role in hyping the stories and extrapolating information. Questions like does she want to take on Kejriwal, or what made her change her mind so suddenly? or, is it the hunger for power? are being raised against her. At one time, Bedi and Kejriwal were together in the Anna Hazare-led India Against Corruption campaign for the Jan Lokpal Bill. But in August 2013, Bedi distanced herself from Kejriwal when he decided to jump into politics. She even said that she would not join politics ever. This has created political mess which is being churned out in the form of allegations from the political parties.

Recently in November 2014, Bedi had said, “I deny reports of joining the BJP. When did I say I would become a member of any political party? I have never said that I am joining BJP.’’ Now, less than two months later, she becomes the face of BJP’s poll campaign in Delhi. The difference between her words and actions speaks a lot about her credibility. People may come up with questions attacking her in politics.

But the worst part of the story is that the BJP is trying to confine the polls to a battle between two individuals – Modi and Arvind Kejriwal. However, Kejriwal is trying to distance himself from the image of Modi, thanks to the ‘good’ experience he had had in Lok Sabha election.

Delhi is suffering from problems that don’t have easy solutions, but the focus of the Delhi polls is being shifted from the problems of Delhi to only a battle between personalities. Issues and tall poll promises are being made by these political bigwigs in order to gain support of people.

A pre-conceived notion about clear mandate to any party may prove to be false. But it is clear roping in Kiran Bedi was the BJP’s compulsion on the political ground. With the ‘Broom’ giving a tough fight to the ‘Lotus’, Arvind Kejriwal’s strategy has been to turn the contest into a ‘Keriwal versus Modi’ affair. While Modi’s magic had worked in the last Lok Sabha elections as well as the subsequent state elections in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir, on all the above instances, a strong anti-incumbency wave against the ruling governments. The same could not be the case in Delhi where there has been no government for the last one year.  Party insiders, therefore, concede that a CM face became necessary to insulate Modi from any post-poll embarrassment. And who else could fit the bill better than Bedi?  After all, it takes fire to fight fire!

This is written by Khushboo Agrahari, a student of IIMC. contact : khushbooagrahari05@gmail.com

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