Kiran Bedi bares BJP’s strange weakness

The party whose PM is winning the world has not one leader the capital

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Ashish Mehta | January 17, 2015 | New Delhi



Photo: Arun Kumar

Maybe, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going to win the Delhi polls. Maybe, the Modi wave is bound deliver at the epicenter if it has already delivered in the far-flung places. But then how come it has to bank on a person who till last week was not even in the party?

Kiran Bedi was of course a BJP and Modi supporter for a while. Within a day of her entry into the BJP, she is being projected as a CM candidate, causing heartburns among the old local leaders. The situation of course makes a point: after 16 years in opposition, how come BJP could not put one leader ahead who had articulated people’s supposed anger against the third-term Congress regime? Because that is the role Bedi is supposed to play. How come BJP has not nurtured a leader who is efficient, decisive, alive to women’s concerns and so on? Because that is what Bedi is projected to be.

Of course, the absence of a strong CM candidate in BJP and Bedi’s arrival to play that role is not a matter of highly original analysis. Unidentified sources admitted as much, telling the Indian Express that “While the party has a large number of second-rung leaders, the results [of an in-house survey] indicated that a critical percentage of voters were reluctant to vote for the BJP because of the lack of a strong CM face. The survey indicated that Kiran Bedi was a popular choice for CM.”

Now, getting your candidates from other parties is no big deal, all parties have been doing that – most recently, BJP did so in Haryana – but the point is that unlike Haryana and elsewhere BJP has had a strong presence in Delhi for long, and the candidate being imported at the last moment is the apparent CM candidate, no less. It shows a strange weakness of the party at a time its prime minister is seen as an unbeatable, invincible, and unchallenged leader at home and abroad.

Meanwhile, Bedi’s BJP entry also says something about the now-forgotten Anna movement. People’s angst abck then must have been so powerful that this movement has today given Delhi both its serious CM candidates. Then again, how come BJP could not capitalise or channelise that anger in for itself in the capital?

Of course, various opinion polls and overheard conversations of aam aadmis indicate that the BJP is very much ahead in Delhi. After all, it won all seven Lok Sabha seats comfortably. The party’s discomfort stems from the possibility of a repeat of 2012, a hung assembly in which case it won’t be able to go to either Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) or the Congress for support, and unlike Maharashtra a clear majority is desperately needed. Thus, Bedi is needed only for that final push from 30+ seats to 36.

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