The Telegraph
Sunday , January 12 , 2014
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BJP banks on fear of ‘anarchy’ to beat AAP

New Delhi, Jan. 11: The BJP would welcome Kiran Bedi if she decides to join the party, but its strategy for combating the Aam Aadmi Party is not tied to winning over Team Anna.

Sources said Narendra Modi was “more than aware” that Kejriwal, and not Anna Hazare, was the flavour of the season. Bedi, like Kejriwal, was a key member of Team Anna when it launched its Lokpal bill campaign. She stayed on when Kejriwal parted ways with the group.

This week, the former top cop hinted that she was warming up to the BJP through tweets extolling the party’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi. Bedi juxtaposed her praise of Modi with sideswipes at Kejriwal.

BJP sources said their strategy on the AAP would broadly rest on pitching the “merits” of governing through “tried-and-tested and entrenched systems” against the “risks inherent in anarchy”.

Party sympathisers have begun to spread the word that Kejriwal’s first policy initiatives — supply of 666 litres of free water every day to every household, 50 per cent slash in electricity rates and exemption to power bill defaulters — were “recipes to cook and serve anarchy”.

On Friday, shortly after the Delhi chief minister announced he would exempt those who had not paid their power bills for the past 10 months and withdraw cases against those booked for electricity theft when he had launched a campaign against power distribution companies in 2013, Delhi’s former power and finance secretary, Shakti Sinha, described the decision as “illegal as per the 2003 Electricity Act”.

Sinha, who had served in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s PMO, is associated with the BJP’s “intellectual cell” and could join the party shortly.

Power tariffs can be reduced only by the regulator after following a stipulated procedure, Sinha told a section of the media.

The BJP’s legislature party leader, Harsh Vardhan, described Kejriwal’s decisions as a “sign of very bad governance” and said: “There is a difference between shouting on the streets and ruling.”

Today, as Kejriwal’s first “janata durbar” was aborted, the BJP showed off a Modi “achievement”.

“Modiji has put in place a model system that Kejriwal can perhaps adopt,” an office-bearer said. He pointed to the Swagat Online mechanism introduced in Gujarat in 2003 to facilitate a video-conference between the chief minister and the people on the fourth Thursday of each month. Complaints are logged in, seen in advance by Modi and forwarded to the officers concerned who are tasked to redress them on the day that he interacts with the complainants.

If the BJP is pleased with Bedi, it is because on Friday she announced on TV she would vote for Modi because a “country of a billion faced with humungous challenges needs a very experienced political administrator as Prime Minister and not those who will learn at national cost”.

She later tweeted: “For me it’s India first. Stable, well governed, administered, accountable and inclusive. As an independent voter, my vote is for NaMo (Modi).”

However, sources said she has not yet made up her mind on joining the BJP. In November 2013, when the party’s intellectual cell had invited her to speak, her condition was the event should be held outside the BJP headquarters. The party agreed.