BJP's chief ministerial candidate in Delhi, Kiran Bedi has said fringe elements in the Sangh Parivar orchestrating the campaign for 'gharvapsi' (homecoming) by reconverting Christians and Muslims, have been reined in by the party leadership.
"They are fringes. Fringes have been stopped, they have been given the message. The message has been conveyed in the party leadership's own style," Bedi said when a question was posed to her during Aap Ki Adalat TV show Saturday.
Asked about Modi's silence on the homecoming issue, she said: "How do you know Modiji is silent? The problem is, some things are conveyed through media, some other things are decided within the party. I think the leadership should have this right and the PM should not speak on every issue."
"The PM is trying to solve the nation's problems seriously and he speaks very carefully about what to say publicly and who to say in the Sangh, in the party.
Sangh, or sangat, is a collective. But the message is very clear, the agenda is single -- 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas'," Bedi, a former police officer, said.
However, Bedi also said that homecoming was not a crime. "Neither gharwapsi is a crime, nor conversion is a crime. Everybody in India has the right to convert from one religion to another voluntarily, but the law say, conversion through coercion is crime", she added.
"BJP says if there is any problem with conversion let there be a debate and a law be enacted. But you can't ban conversions. You've to give the right of choice."
Fielding questions about Muslims being wary of her, Bedi said she has not practiced discrimination in her career. "Ask any Muslim brother, whether I practiced discrimination in any of my work. For me, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians all are same.
"Twenty one years ago, when I was filling up the All India Civil Services form, I wrote 'humanity' against the religion column. Humanity encompasses all religions. Muslims are Indians. We have made our nation as a bouquet," she added.
Asked that Muslims were wary about the BJP, Bedi said: "It's the party which has nominated me. Am I different from my party?"
Bedi criticised Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal, saying he had not only lied to Delhi voters but even misled Gandhian leader Anna Hazare before his fast.
"He (Kejriwal) sat on fast without taking permission from Anna, then called Anna. ...You can ask him..Anna didn't even know what the fast was meant for.
He (Kejriwal) was adamant over sitting on fast. His motive was to reach Parliament. So the very foundation (of his entering politics) was based on a lie."
On Kejriwal's remark that she was not a challenge to him, but for the BJP leaders, Bedi said: "He (Kejriwal) has many challenges. He just doesn't understand. The main challenge is from the public, the voters, whether they will trust him again or not."
"The voters are wary, whether he will run away again and force another election. His motive was always - sadak (road) to sansad (parliament). Let's still wish him well. But will the voters forget his list of lies. The list is too long. I have seen him lie."
She also criticised Kejriwal for asking voters to take bribes from BJP and Congress, and vote for AAP. "He (Kejriwal) is teaching corruption to the people, he is corrupting them. Why didn't he say, refuse money if you are offered, and vote for me?"
On reports that some BJP leaders were dissatisfied with her projection as the chief ministerial candidate, she said such reports were "exaggerated".
Asked how BJP leaders who had served the party for 40 years would tolerate her as chief ministerial candidate who joined barely 40 hours before, Bedi replied:
"I have seen one good quality among them. The credit goes to their history, the workers. Once a collective decision is taken, they all fall in line, in the sense, they all work together. It is a disciplined party."
About the BJP's north-east Delhi MP Manoj Tiwari's first reaction to her induction in the party, saying the party does not need thanedars, Bedi said, "Even a thanedar (SHO) can be a leader.
A leader is one who has a distant vision, has discipline, honesty, the quality to take everybody along. Such person becomes a leader, otherwise he becomes a follower."
She also revealed that it was senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley who facilitated her entry into the BJP. "Arun Jaitleyji played a strong role in my entry, that's the truth. And not him alone, others too..but he played an instrumental role in my coming into BJP."
Outlining her 6P agenda for the people of Delhi, she said the "6Ps" include principals and parents, community policing, prison reforms, fast prosecution and the press."