Kiran Bedi will be declared CM candidate in Delhi, says top BJP leader

While speculation remains rife over Kiran Bedi's role in Delhi assembly elections, senior party leader Anil Jain confirmed the party would take the electoral plunge after declaring the former top cop as its chief ministerial face.

delhi Updated: Jan 19, 2015 21:08 IST
Siddhartha Rai
Siddhartha Rai
Hindustan Times

While speculation remains rife over Kiran Bedi's role in Delhi assembly elections, senior party leader Anil Jain confirmed the party would take the electoral plunge after declaring the former top cop as its chief ministerial face.

According to Jain, who is also the member of BJP's core committee handling Delhi polls, the dominant view within the party was to let Bedi not only be the vanguard of party's campaign in Delhi, but also to declare her as the CM candidate.

The party will also finalise on Monday the list of star campaigners as Jain said the BJP has planned over 200 rallies and sabhas in the capital. The leader also confirmed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rallies would start immediately after January 26.

"I had, along with some others, suggested party president Amit Shah that Delhi is an altogether different ballgame than Haryana, Maharashtra or Jharkhand where going faceless gave us a clear advantage and we were able to post historic victories. The demography of Delhi is different and the electorate will appreciate a concrete CM face," said Jain, who is largely considered as one of the chief architects of BJP's victory in Haryana.

Another senior Delhi BJP leader hinted at the reason that informed the shift in the party's strategy away from going faceless so far in other assembly elections.

He said having a CM candidate was a political safety valve in case the Aam Aadmi party (AAP) performs well or goes past the BJP's tally of seats with the contest being projected as one directly between Arvind Kejriwal and Prime Minister Modi.

"The scenario of AAP bagging more seats or a number comparable to us is exceptionally remote, but if that happens for any reason with the BJP projecting Delhi as a referendum between Kejriwal and Modi, we will have suffered a huge loss," the leader said.

BJP sources said while the party was aware of Bedi's meteoric image, she was expected to follow party line without rocking the current BJP juggernaut.

List for clarity

The much-awaited list is likely to be made public after the BJP's Central Election Committee meeting where senior leaders including Prime Minister Modi and Shah are expected to deliberate on the poll strategy.

The fight for Delhi is crucial for the BJP and a win here would cap off a brilliant run in assembly elections in Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and J-K. But senior party leaders are worried the selection chaos could affect the results.

However, with less than three weeks to go for the elections, the Delhi BJP seems to be in disarray, and has been dogged by infighting and lack of clarity. A south Delhi rally by Shah had to be cancelled on Saturday due to lack of coordination in the party's city unit.

Confusion over the CM nominee and lack of movement on candidate selection has created chaos in the city unit, BJP sources said.

According to a section of party leaders, the induction of Bedi has made matters murkier as she is being positioned as the face of the party without officially being named its CM pick.

However, another section feels the BJP now has a prominent face in Delhi who can woo the youth, women, middle-class and service class as well as Sikh voters in the national capital.

BJP parliamentarian (northeast Delhi) and Bhojpuri actor Manoj Tiwari said the local unit will work with the person chosen as the CM pick by the high command.

"Party is doing well. We are happy that people are joining us. We will all fight with 'Chalo Chale Modi' slogan."

BJP leader Jagdish Mukhi said, "People in Delhi have three options: corrupt Congress, anarchist AAP or BJP, which does work."

The BJP is still the party to beat in the polls, and is ahead of the rival AAP in surveys. But the lack of clarity is what is making party workers increasingly confused and de-motivated, sources said.

On the other hand, BJP leaders pointed out, the AAP and the Congress have already declared their candidates, many of whom have started campaigning and filed their nominations. For the December 2013 polls, the BJP had wrapped up its candidate selection a month in advance.

Elections to 70-member Delhi assembly will be held on February 7 and results would be announced on February 10. Nominations can be filed up to January 22.

The BJP is likely to contest majority of the total of 70 seats, leaving some to its ally Akali Dal. Last time, it had fought for 66 seats and gave four to Akali Dal.

Video:Kejriwal says Kiran Bedi and Shazia Ilmi won't help BJP's cause

First Published: Jan 19, 2015 13:55 IST