In her first detailed response after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s defeat in the Delhi assembly elections, Kiran Bedi says she failed the test of electoral politics despite giving it all her energy and experience. Below is Bedi's column published in Hindustan Times:
I opted for electoral politics not for position or power, but for serving the city which is home to me for the last over 40 years. A city which I have served in various capacities, through thick and thin.
I saw it through various challenges — international sports events, VIP security, political upheavals, communal riots, agitations, and more.
On crime front, I saw it through when Delhi was hit by terror from outside. I spent years to catch a wink with boots on and with wireless blaring to get on the street any moment.
I did crime prevention, saving women from being raped in rural areas on dark nights by erstwhile criminal tribes with literally no cops on roles by involving village young men to patrol at night, while I was personally out five nights a week.
I conducted traffic management for Asian Games with hundreds of students doing traffic duties when my senior wanted to send me to Japan on a course, just to edge me out. Traffic was huge revenue for some.
Another time when a district assignment was ridden with bootlegging, I managed to dry it out and rehabilitate illicit liquor sellers to honourable living. I sent rag picking children to schools, which are now community colleges and many of the same children working as teachers. I even opened drug abuse treatment centres from police stations which were never heard of.
All this became a lifelong mission and will remain so.
I did it all not for any glory; I did it because the service and situations demanded it.
Wanted to give Delhi all I still had
I stepped into electoral politics because I wanted to give my city all I still had, when I was given the feeling that I could be of value. I wanted to see it get a stable government in alignment with the Government of India to get all that Delhi needed.
I also wanted to not die one day with a guilt that I was commenting only and never daring to pass the ultimate test of electoral politics.
I have failed the test and I take full responsibility for my decision.
But inside me has not failed. Because given the time I gave to myself, I gave it all the energy and experience I had. Obviously it was not enough.
In such trying situations one does not meet the challenge alone. There are several factors which play a vital role. And each one did. I wish to add nothing more. History will keep analysing till cows come home. And as I read them, each one of them makes sense and worth being reflected upon.
The wise will read each one, and take due notice.
Need to rework the way we campaign
On the election trail, I wish to say we need to rework the way we campaign. Whole city or state comes to a grinding halt. Should it?
Roads are in disarray and work just stops. Everything is too loud, uncouth at times, insulting to thin skinned, false, insinuating, biased, revengeful, corrupt, wasteful, highly disruptive of common man's needs, breaking all laws, and sending all wrong messages. It's not a level-playing field for the level-headed serving people. It's a field for might and muscle in all respects. We need to address these and I hope to see it in my life time.
People need services to be delivered. They want integrity, trustworthiness, and professional commitment. They want an implementable vision and plans. But they also want freebies -- more you give; more the demand and in return more the gains.
Many do not get it still, that there are no free lunches in life. If you rob Peter to pay Paul, it won't be long before all get robbed.
Also all campaigning must become lawful, transparent, facts and evidence based, civil, organised, more technology driven, reasonable, unbiased, neutral through different mediums, etc.
Let candidates be chosen on basis of performance or implementable ideas
Space for public speaking or visual presentation could be allocated through neutral empires appointed by the Election Commission as per laid down rules based debates and also grass root work done, and let candidates be chosen on the basis of performance or implementable ideas -- which means widespread use of Television reaching out to the last mile.
Public ‘appeals’ through use of congregations must be not be allowed and considered a violation of laws. Hence, it must be banned.
It’s time every public servant becomes a stake holder in governing this country. Needs of people have far outstripped what the country can provide for, be it water, power, roads, public transport, schools, teachers, doctors, jobs, skills, and even girls. Forget about security for women, only God knows how long women will continue to suffer.
In the end, I wish to thank all those who reposed their trust in me. And to say I am sorry, I could not measure upto their expectations.
And also, all who called me with foulest possible names. I am relieved my parents were not alive to see this.
(The writer, the first woman IPS officer, unsuccessfully contested the recent Delhi assembly polls as the BJP chief ministerial candidate. Views expressed are her personal)