The BJP’s dramatic election-eve decision to counter the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s Arvind Kejriwal with his estranged comrades-in-arms Kiran Bedi and Shazia Ilmi has turned the battle for Delhi into the mother of all personality contests. BJP leaders praised the executive skills and credibility of Bedi as a police officer and projected her as a champion. Although, Ilmi won’t contest the election she can for sure be a weapon in BJP’s war room. What the chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi and former AAP leader Shazia Ilmi bring to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)? In fact, the BJP looks to Bedi and Ilmi to counter AAP’s credibility factors.
The middle class category in the Capital that Kejriwal feeds on is presently hanging by ideals of reliability and integrity even supposing majority of them don’t observe these themselves. Given the short period for electioneering and not having selected any candidate for Delhi’s chief ministership, the BJP adopted a totally new strategy. The strategy is counter-credibility, through the new entrants to the party – Kiran Bedi and Shazia Ilmi. In fact, both have worked with Kejriwal and know his plan of action in the upcoming Assembly election.
But the argument of the period for electioneering being short becomes redundant and immaterial as for one full year it is known to everyone election is due in Delhi. The alibi for not having proper leadership does not hold water.
Through Bedi the BJP is giving an alternative to Kejriwal in Delhi where the middle class plays a big role in deciding the electoral fortunes. Having voted the BJP in the election, the middle class has become cautious of the Sangh Parivar and its politics of ghar wapsi as also the intemperate remarks of some of the BJP MPs and Modi’s refusal to tame them.
In this sense, Bedi will help overcome the reservations the middle class has for the BJP. A former disciplined police officer projected for her direct strategies, best typified through that iconic picture of her charging a participant in a Sikh protest march some twenty years ago, she holds out for the BJP the hope of convincing the middle class of restoring order to the city, of checking the autocratic methods of Delhi police, the issues which have undeniably enhanced Kejriwal’s quality.
Of being Punjabi and Muslim
For the BJP, Bedi also symbolises the pride of Punjabi, of restoring the clout of the Punjabicommunity that has become marginalized over the decades, the migrants, particularly from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, have besieged them. For 15 years the Capital was under the rule of Sheila Dikshit and she is a Brahmin from Uttar Pradesh. Even Kejriwal isn’t a Punjabi.
There is an additional rationale to why Shazia Ilmi has been brought into the BJP. She will give a colour of modernity to the BJP, to assert that the ghar wapsi programme hasn’t alienated the Muslim population from the party in the Capital.
The projection of Bedi displays a lack of good leadership of some standing that can deliver for the party in the Capital region and a concomitant desperation to win in Delhi. For a cadre-based national party on a phenomenal winning spree across the country having to face such a situation necessitating import of an outsider for top office, irrespective of whatever strategy you boast of, is pitiable indeed. The immediate fallout of the last-minute discovery of the frailty, or call it strategy, was a resentment among petty leaders who have been secretly nursing the ambition to become the Chief Minister.