BJP pulls out all stops

BJP pulls out all stops

When the BJP inducted ‘outsider’ Kiran Bedi about a fortnight back and instantly projected her as its face for the Delhi Assembly polls, the message was loud and clear that the party had accepted the AAP’s challenge of playing non-conventional politics. 

Learning from the 2013-end Assembly polls, which the BJP fought under the homegrown leadership of Dr Harsh Vardhan - who too enjoys a squeaky clean and performer’s image and backed his candidature with brand Modi - the party realised that it will have to confront Arvind Kejriwal on his own turf if it had to better its previous result inching beyond being single largest party to occupying the national capital.

Party chief Amit Shah has Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity and achievements of his seven-month old government as the backup. Bedi is a product of the same anti-corruption movement stream that gave birth to AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal.  And is the answer to Kejriwal in many other senses except for “anarchic” tendencies which BJP blames he has.  

Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley, who mid-wifed her entry into the BJP, explained the need to have such a poll mascot at one of the election rallies. "We wanted an iconic face who has a positive influence over the people of Delhi. So our party agreed on Bedi...There is a perception about Bedi that she is committed to her work and that once she starts on something, she fulfils her duty," he had told the crowd.

The party election strategy managers believe that they have been able to neutralise AAP’s constant attack that the BJP does not have a leader and is forced to field PM everywhere. The AAP had even come out with taunting advertisements to pitch Arvind Kejriwal against Jagdish Mukhi, sending message about matchless contest between the two parties’ leaders. Since her elevation, Kejriwal has not been able to take on her former mate as he publicly claimed that he had himself wanted to showcase her as their CM candidate due to her “core values” which the former police officer did not accept.  The party leaders argue they stand to gain from Bedi’s popularity among women and Sikhs which had voted for the AAP last time.

Though Bedi might have offered its best choice, the BJP is confronting the baggage she has come along with to fight the toughest battle Modi-Shah regime is facing.  Adding to this is the paling Modi wave. And the signs are visible in the published poll surveys that are projecting a very close fight between the two rivals and in the large deployment of union ministers and more than 100 party leaders drawn from states to micromanage constituencies and to contain damage due to infighting.

 In his rare interviews to media this week, BJP chief Amit Shah was confident to assert that unexpected results would come out giving comfortable majority to his party. The party is also tutoring Bedi in the art of political speaking, despite the fact that she possesses oratory skills, given that she is new to electoral politics and was found wanting in some of the media interactions that went viral in the social media.

Like 2014 LS elections were fought on Modi versus the rest, Delhi Assembly poll is being battled out on Kejriwal versus the rest.  Will Kejriwal dominate the capital horizon as Modi did nationally? Or Bedi will affirm the trust BJP has shown in her leadership?  In between these questions there is another fear of repeat of 2013 hung verdict.