BJP finally announced its CM candidate for Delhi – Kiran Bedi, first woman IPS officer of India.
This has not only taken BJP cadre by surprise but also opponents AAP and Congress by surprise. Kiran Bedi joined the party less than a week ago before her name being announced for the top post. This is perhaps the first time that an outsider and apolitical personality has been been given such a big responsibility in few days of joining a party. This could prove to be the master stroke from Amit Shah and nail AAP’s Kejriwal.
BJP took the decision despite being fully aware of rumblings from within. Four to five big leaders Vijay Goel, Jagdish Mukhi, Vijayendra Gupta, Satish Upadhyaya and VK Malhotra were eyeing for the post. Delhi BJP is known for its groupism and Amit Shah’s decision is pretty bold in that respect.
Why was this decision taken?
BJP didn’t announce CM candidates for the 4 states which went to polls last year. In all these states, Modi was the face of campaign. This worked because BJP was fighting against incumbent CMs against whom there was huge anti incumbency (Chauhan in Maharashtra, Hooda in Haryana, Soren in Jharkhand and Omar in J&K). Here in Delhi this was not the case. There is no anti incumbency against Kejriwal or for that matter Maken. The fight in Delhi is more positive and issue based in that sense. BJP couldn’t de-ride previous govt. as there has been no govt. in the state for past one year.
A faceless campaign was impacting BJP it was felt. Kejriwal made it a fight with himself and Jagdish Mukhi. In most surveys he was being shown as no. 1 choice for Delhi CM, while BJP was seen as getting majority seats. This meant there were many confused / undecided voters who on the last day would take a final call.
How could this be a master stroke?
BJP has now made it a direct fight between two of Anna’s big protégés. BJP has now clearly made a point that Kejriwal and AAP are not automatic political heirs to Anna Hazare’s legacy. In this sense it has tried to create a rift between India Against Corruption movement supporters.
Kiran Bedi has a clean / honest image capable of challenging Kejriwal who blows his own trumpet that he is the most honest among politicians.
Kiran Bedi has a rich administrative experience of 40 years, while Kejriwal appears much junior to her in this respect. Max 5 years even if you include his income tax experience.
Delhi has 47% woman voters. Women’s safety is one if the biggest issues in this election as Delhi has been infamously named as the rape capital of India. Women would see in Kiran a crusader of their right to safer environment and better law and order situation. A woman understands the problems of woman better. Women have traditionally been not seen as a vote bank in India.
There is a perception that women vote for the parties their husbands / fathers / brothers ask them to. Higher education, financial independence and desire to stop violence / discrimination among women have encouraged more and more women to come out and vote and assert their voice in elections. This section of voters alone is sufficient to ensure Kiran’s and BJP’s victory. The women of Delhi silently without any noise will decide the future course of Delhi elections.
What are the pitfalls of this decision?
A section of top party leaders could sulk and could sabotage party’s fortunes. The fact that none of the state BJP leaders has such a stature and following will help to reduce any adverse impact of this move.
AAP has carried out a twitter war digging old tweets of Kiran Bedi where she has criticised BJP. Guys grow up, a person is entitled to change his / her opinion. You can’t have the same view about a particular thing all throughout your life. Change is the only constant. And look who’s accusing Kiran Bedi of flip flop. Kejriwal who has done the biggest u-turn of the century by aligning with Congress post polls last time. So people may not fall into this trap!
If Kiran Bedi’s announcement as CM candidate was not enough, AAP received further setback when Shanti Bhushan one of its founder members criticised Kejriwal for straying away from the fundamental principles of foundation of the party. Days later his son Prashant Bhushan has openly criticised Kejriwal for giving tickets to former Congress / BJP / BSP members and compromising with the procedures laid down in party manual for selection if candidates. So after all AAP is not a party with a difference.
Congress is fighting hard to stay relevant in this election. With AAP losing ground, some of it’s minority vote share could go to Congress. This is good news for BJP. Split of votes between AAP and Congress may help BJP in many seats.
If BJP manages to retain all the 31 seats it won in 2013 elections and snatch the 4 seats which AAP won with victory margins of less than 1,000 votes then it is at halfway mark.
Will AAP be decimated completely in these elections? Will Congress improve upon its 2013 performance? Will Kiran Bedi be able to clinch the state for Delhi? Only time will tell….
Politicalbaaba runs a popular blog on Indian politics and elections www.politicalbaaba.wordpress.com. It has been nominated by The Guardian as one of the online voices providing an alternative view of India and the general elections. author runs a blog author runs a blog www.politicalbaaba.wordpress.com. You can tweet @politicalbaaba.