The Telegraph
Friday , May 23 , 2014
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Kiran says she is willing, BJP cold

New Delhi, May 22: Kiran Bedi has thrown her hat into the ring for Delhi chief minister but the BJP no longer seems interested in backing the former top cop who had turned down its offer of a ticket last year.

“She refused our request to join the party before last year’s Assembly elections in Delhi. Now, after the Narendra Modi wave has been established, she wants to jump in and get to the top. No state BJP leader would accept this,” a party insider said.

Sources said Bedi, who parted ways with fellow anti-corruption crusader Arvind Kejriwal after he floated the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), had sniffed an opportunity with Chandni Chowk MP Harshvardhan, the BJP’s chief ministerial face in the December Assembly elections, tipped to get a berth in Modi’s council.

“I no more rule out entering Indian political service on capability basis. I am moving towards some flexibility in this,” Bedi, a former IPS officer, had tweeted yesterday.

Asked if she was ready to become the chief minister of Delhi if the BJP offered her the chair, she said: “Yes, if I am offered.”

On Tuesday, she had tweeted: “Let not a single vote go waste! Delhi must reap full rewards of ModiSarkar.”

Bedi’s overtures come at a time fresh elections to the Delhi Assembly seem to be the most likely option. The 70-seat House has been in suspended animation since Kejriwal, whose rookie party won 28 seats, resigned as chief minister in February, but no party has come forward to stake claim to form the government.

The BJP won 32 seats in the December elections. The Congress, which had eight MLAs, had offered outside support to the AAP.

Delhi BJP leaders maintained silence over Bedi’s unilateral overtures but, in private, some of them appeared dead against the idea of projecting her for chief minister. Some leaders said she had also been offered a ticket for the Lok Sabha elections but had turned it down.

Ahead of the December Assembly elections, the BJP had wanted to field Bedi to counter Kejriwal’s rising popularity. Now, after the clear mandate for Modi, the state BJP feels it no longer needs Bedi to sail through if fresh elections are called.

Kejriwal, too, had offered the Delhi chief minister’s post to Bedi and urged her to contest the December elections, but she had refused.

Bedi is known to have a good rapport with some key BJP leaders and sources said she might tap them to secure the chief minister’s post. However, it largely depends on whether Harshvardhan gets a berth in the Modi government at the Centre.

Some senior party leaders said Harshvardhan could be kept aside for Delhi to avoid a scramble for the chair within the party.