Why 'Iron woman' Kiran Bedi should hold debate with 'I-Run man' Arvind Kejriwal

By Biplob Ghosal | Updated: Jan 22, 2015, 00:56 AM IST

Kiran Bedi vs Arvind Kejriwal debate would be a treat for any journalist at any given day.

With Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) inducting former top cop Kiran Bedi into the party fold and declaring her as the chief ministerial candidate, the upcoming Delhi polls have become the mother of all battles since the 2014 General Elections.

As soon as the BJP declared Bedi as its CM candidate, AAP convenor and former Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal invited his ex-colleague for a public debate on Delhi elections. However, 65-year-old Bedi, who joined BJP last week, ducked Kejriwal’s challenge, saying that she will debate with him "on the floor of the House" instead.

Bedi, known to be an upright police officer and a person who never pulls her punches, was expected to accept Kejriwal’s challenge as the people of Delhi want to know the views of their prospective CM on issues like corruption, price rise, development, female security, water and power woes etc.

The BJP’s CM candidate shying away from the AAP chief's challenge came as a surprise as in the past, she had herself advocated presidential style debates similar to those in the United States.

Bedi had in 2012 suggested a debate between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and then BJP president Nitin Gadkari on the lines of duel between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

In India too, several big political personalities such as PM Modi and Union minister Smriti Irani have challenged Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi respectively to have public debates.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Ajay Maken, who has shouldered the responsibility to improve party's performance in Delhi, has put forward a brave face and expressed his eagerness to debate both with Kejriwal and Bedi. The Delhi Congress election chief expressed readiness for a "healthy" exercise in the run-up to Assembly polls.

The media went abuzz after Kejriwal threw the challenge to Bedi. Many personalities, including journalists geared, up for a possible debate, with many expressing their thoughts on Twitter that the two former IITians should debate on a public platform.

With Bedi refusing to hold public debate with Kejriwal, she has given AAP fodder to target her and the BJP, which is already grappling with infighting in the state unit. The BJP may have a lot to answer, as Delhiites, who would be voting next month to elect their government, have known Kiran Bedi as a gutsy officer, who didn’t even spare former prime minister Indira Gandhi.

Delhi remembers Bedi as an outspoken person, who didn't hesitate to even mock Parliamentarians with her ‘Ghoonghat act’ at Ramila Maidan during the Lokpal movement. She is credited with become the country’s first lady IPS officer, who brought in drastic reforms for prisoners.

However, by choosing a safe seat, not accepting the debate challenge and relying too much on Modi’s persona, Bedi is not doing justice to her own personality and abilities.

A ‘Yes’ to a debate with Kejriwal would have certainly brought cheers to her supporters who see her as an 'Iron-Woman'. However, she also appears to be falling in the category of 'I-Run man' personalities. Let us hope she changes her mind and sets a benchmark in Indian politics.