DC Debate: Craning for victory

Kiran Bedi is the trump card the BJP needs to counter the Aam Aadmi Party

Kiran Bedi is the trump card the BJP needs to counter the AAP

K.G. Suresh Vs Ashish Khetan


K.G. Suresh: Bedi is the icing on Modi cake

Ms Bedi’s charisma will serve to further improve the fortunes of the BJP, which had been banking on Modi magic alone to win the elections. The BJP has put the AAP on the backfoot.

The induction of India’s first woman IPS officer and her subsequent nomination as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming Assembly elections in Delhi has overnight changed the poll scenario in the national capital. While the BJP was never the underdog in the elections — it emerged as the single-largest party in the last Assembly elections and swept all the seven seats at stake in the Lok Sabha polls — Ms Bedi’s charisma will serve to further improve the fortunes of the party, which had so far been banking on Modi magic alone to win the elections. The BJP has certainly put the Aam Aadmi Party on the backfoot and in a defensive mode.

Making it clear that it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is the ruling planet, Ms Bedi has said: “BJP has got the world’s most beautiful face with it, i.e. Narendra Modi and his leadership. After that we are just stars who are revolving around him.” Indeed, while “Crane” Bedi’s image and reputation as a tough, upright, uncompromising and incorruptible police officer would certainly give the BJP an edge over its opponents at the hustings, it would still be the Modi factor that would play a decisive role in the poll outcome, for the people of Delhi know very well that the Centre has an overarching role in matters pertaining to Delhi including that of law and order, significant in the wake of the capital becoming increasingly unsafe for women.

They realise the futility of electing a chief minister who would be perennially at odds with the Centre and the Prime Minister and create hurdles in the path of smooth Centre-state relations — a pre-requisite for the metro’s development and safety. With the BJP winning state after state in the Assembly polls held after Mr Modi’s assumption of office, the argument that anti-incumbency against the Centre would be a major factor in the elections holds no water. On the contrary, the party’s recent electoral victories, its foreign policy successes including President Obama’s Republic Day visit, and the successive reduction in fuel prices (even if due to fall in international crude prices) are expected to play a major role in the BJP’s victory.

Moreover, while the induction into the BJP of high-profile faces from other parties — AAP’s Shazia Ilmi and Krishna Tirath, former Union minister in the UPA government — may not bring in much electoral dividends for the party, it will certainly serve to demoralise the cadres of the AAP and the Congress. With its alliance with the Akalis in place and induction of well-known leaders from different communities including Muslims and dalits, the BJP has also succeeded in gaining wider acceptability among all sections of the society.

To a great extent, Ms Bedi joining the BJP has punctured the AAP’s strategy of projecting its supremo Arvind Kejriwal as the most credible face in the contest. The AAP did not take much time to put state BJP president Satish Upadhyaya on the defensive once his elevation as the party’s campaign committee chief was announced. But it would be a Herculean task for Kejriwal & Co to come up with similar allegations against fellow India Against Corruption activist Ms Bedi. No wonder, the AAP leaders are now raking up issues pertaining to the different municipal corporations held by the BJP to corner Ms Bedi. It’s undoubtedly advantage BJP in Delhi with Ms Bedi becoming the icing on the Modi cake.

K.G. Suresh is senior fellow and editor with the Vivekananda International Foundation


Ashish Khetan: An outsider can’t bind a party

By inducting Kiran Bedi just a few days before the elections, the BJP has succumbed to the AAP’s agenda, which is to get political parties to field candidates who do not face any criminal or corruption charges.

By parachuting former IPS officers Kiran Bedi and projecting her as its chief ministerial candidate, the Bharatiya Janata Party has proved the Aam Aadmi Party’s point that the saffron party’s Delhi unit is not only bereft of ideas and ideology, but also of leadership. The BJP’s state unit did not have any strong face to project as its chief ministerial candidate after the AAP’s expose against president Satish Upa-dhyay and the vice-president of the Delhi unit, Ashish Sood. By inducting Ms Bedi just a few days before the Delhi Assembly elections, the BJP has succumbed to the AAP’s main agenda, which is to get political parties to field candidates who do not face any criminal or corruption charges.

However, Ms Bedi’s induction into the saffron fold has created rifts and infighting within the party. The party will eventually implode because Ms Bedi, who has been brought in from outside, will not be able to act as a binding force. That’s why the party will be able to match the AAP which comes across as a party working with unity and cohesion.

The BJP was in desperate need to project someone as its chief ministerial candidate because it wanted to safeguard Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reputation as a vote catcher. And since the party was unable to find anyone from within, it got Ms Bedi. If Ms Bedi wins, the victory will be credited to Mr Modi, but if the BJP loses, the party’s loss will be pushed onto her.

Ms Bedi, who has been projected as a clean leader, has a chequered track record. During her service, she was held as “unreliable” and there were reports during her time in Mizoram that secret information could not be shared with her. So Ms Bedi’s clean image being projected by the BJP is just to deceive the voters. The only achievements I would credit to India’s first woman IPS officer are that she towed away Indira Gandhi’s vehicle and brought some reforms to Tihar Jail.
Being the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, Ms Bedi should have been fielded against AAP’s chief ministerial candidate Arvind Kejriwal from the New Delhi constituency. Why has the BJP chosen a “safe seat” for Ms Bedi to contest when it is banking on her clean and strong leadership values? When Mr Kejriwal had the courage to take on the three-time Congress chief minister Sheila Dikshit, doesn’t the BJP have the courage to pitch Ms Bedi against him? In fact, the BJP did not even field Ms Bedi from Malviya Nagar constituency against Somnath Bharti, where she resides.

She’s contesting from Krishna Nagar Assembly constituency, which is a relatively safer seat for the BJP as it has been the stronghold of Union minister Harsh Vardhan. Instead of Ms Bedi, the BJP has got a “sacrificial lamb” in the form of Nupur Sharma, who has been fielded against Mr Kejriwal from New Delhi. This just shows the BJP’s nervousness and how much trust the party has in Ms Bedi as a candidate.

The AAP has time and again pitched for a political system which is not represented by the corrupt and the criminal. Even the AAP’s exposes against the BJP Delhi unit’s president and vice-president were conducted so that such politicians are not able to represent the people and the masses have the option of selecting leaders who do not face corruption or criminal charges. AAP has won half the battle already.

Ashish Khetan is a AAP leader in charge of Delhi Dialogue

( Source : dc )
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