As Kiran Bedi took the centre stage at BJP’s poll campaign in Delhi and was named the party’s chief ministerial face in the Capital, there was considerable heartburn among party MPs and senior city leaders.
The BJP Parliamentary Board met on Monday evening to decide the party’s candidates for the February 7 polls declared that the former Anna Hazare, Kejriwal-aide would be the party’s CM face in Delhi.
But much before that decision came out, Bedi — through her first road show in Rohini and statements to the press — fuelled speculation about her role in the party. Party sources said Bedi’s invitation to the seven BJP MPs of Delhi did not go down well with the leaders. BJP MP from Northeast Delhi Manoj Tiwari was the first one to speak out.
“She should be humble; she has been brought in as a BJP worker. She is not the chief ministerial candidate so far,” Tiwari told TV channels on Sunday. Tiwari had not attended Bedi’s tea party, saying that he was not directed by the top leadership of the party to do so.
But soon after being reprimanded by the party for his off the cuff remark, the Bhojpuri filmstar retracted his statement. He said his comments were not directed against Bedi and “we welcome her into party”.
Jagdish Mukhi, former MLA and one of the most senior leaders of the party in Delhi, too had said that the decision on CM candidate will be taken by the central leadership. “BJP’s central leadership always takes the decision. They will decide who shall be the chief minister candidate or whether the party will have a CM face or not,” Mukhi told reporters.Bedi’s campaign plan has not been finalised and many leaders are not even aware of her road shows in the city. Sources said those working for the party for many years, are unhappy as Bedi who joined the party last week, has taken over and “even directing them to work with her”.
The BJP had gone without a CM face in assembly elections in Haryana, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Maharashtra. While the party won in Haryana, Jharkhand and Maharashtra, it had an exceptional show in the Jammu region.
The party strategists had decided that the BJP should follow the same pattern and go without a face into the assembly polls in Delhi. The party had decided that it would solely depend on the ‘Modi wave’ that had helped it become a mean election winning machine.
However, that changed soon after the former IPS officer joined the party. There was heightened speculation in the media that she has been brought in to scuttle the Aam Aadmi Party’s campaign led by Arvind Kejriwal. Reacting to the alleged dissent in the party ranks and CM candidature, Bedi said, “Let this be answered by the party, I am here because of them”.