BJP recently declared former IPS officer and anti-corruption crusader Kiran Bedi as its Chief Ministerial candidate for Delhi. Bedi's elevation as the party's CM pick is being viewed as a move to counter the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party in the national capital.
In a free-wheeling chat with Zee Business Editor Amish Devgan, Kiran Bedi shared her views on upcoming Delhi assembly polls, Party agenda and her vision for Delhiites.
Talk about your transition from Crane Bedi to Sudhar Bedi to Kiran didi.
Yehi jeevan hai (This is life). New chapters keep getting added in life and this is the latest one. The choice is mine but some things come naturally. The circumstances that happened in Delhi, led to the formation of this new chapter. And I believe that the rule of life is “change”.
Other parties are offering a lot of freebies like cheap electricity, free Wi-Fi etc. What's your plan?
Our plan is to give good governance and to make sure that each department works efficiently. This includes power, water, women safety, education etc. My main goal is to link Delhi's growth with that of India's. The link has been broken for the last one year. All of Delhi's money comes from the Centre and if that link is broken, then it's a loss for Delhi.
AAP says '5 saal', Congress - 'toot gayi vikas ki dor', and BJP- chalo chalein modi ke Sath and Dilli ki didi. What do you have to comment on this?
What five years is Kejriwal referring to 5 years of his government service? I have done that service for 40 years. He has only worked for 5 years in government and apart from that he has no governing experience. He has zero experience of administration or governance. Dhamkiyo se sarkar nahi chalti (Government does not work on threats). It works when it is all inclusive.
What is your economic plan for Delhi?
Market associations' VAT problem needs to be heard. It can't be a one-sided decision. After all, ease of doing business needs to be implemented in Delhi also. As far as skill development is concerned, there aren't enough polytechnics here. I'm thinking of using government school buildings after the school hours as polytechnics. The buildings could be outsourced to train the unemployed youth. Delhi can be a hub of entrepreneurship overnight because we don't need infrastructure for this. It's a ready-made plan for vocational skills training.
Delhi has been weak in terms of economy and industries are also reluctant to come to Delhi. What is your plan for that?
Our government will work in Delhi at both individual and collective level. The city also needs massive sanitation work. You can't separate industry, health and waste management - they're all connected. Government is like an organic body. We'll work on governance and all the issues can be resolved through this.
Kejriwal is giving free Wi-Fi. Aren't you giving anything for free?
When something is free, it loses its value. Things should be subsidized and pocket friendly but not free. We'll generate more electricity and provide easy access to water for cheap. But if you make it totally free, no one will get anything.
Kejriwal wants to have an open debate. Ajay Maken is ready if you also agree to be part of it. What do you have to say? What is more important-- debate or delivery?
This is not the time to debate. That is what Kejriwal did when he was the CM. Debate will happen only in the assembly now. You can't defame anyone there without a valid reason.
Kejriwal and Kumar Vishwas accused you of being a BJP agent since the beginning. Your comment?
Then why did he invite me to be the Chief Minister? If I would've been with him, he wouldn't have called me an opportunist.
AAP poster shows Kejriwal as anti corruption and you as an opportunist. Any comment?
I've sent them a legal notice for that. This is unethical. How can they use my picture without my permission and judge themselves and me? It's both unethical and illegal. Corruption is not just monetary. It's psychological and behavioral also. This kind of a behavior also comes under corruption.
Both of you are followers of Anna Hazare. Is this a chela vs chela situation?
I'm not against anyone. I'm here to save my Delhi and if you want to change India, you can't afford so much disturbance in Delhi. I've come for implementation because the government of India has a plan for everything. Kejriwal can't implement because he has negligible experience while I have 40 years of experience. I have also worked in slums for 26 years, so it is 66 years in total.
Some BJP members feel that you've hijacked Delhi BJP. What do you have to say?
It is a united, organized, cadre-based party. We all work together. It is not a one-man army. BJP is a national party while AAP is just in Delhi, that too with an experience of only 2.5 years. I don't wish to bad mouth anyone. I'm here to work and get work done.
Do you think this time Delhi people will vote to give a clear mandate?
Delhi's people have been very disturbed and they need peace and growth now. They now want a stable government that can work along with the Centre and lead to development.
AAP and Congress objected to you being seated in front row during Republic Day parade. Any comment?
I was invited and I sat according to the invitation. If someone else has a problem with it, what can I say! Kejriwal should have applied for an invitation or bought a ticket. I can't speak for him. You can't demand an invitation. You either get it or request for it.
You said if Kejriwal joins BJP, he'll get an invite too. What's your comment on that?
It wasn't a serious statement. I meant to say that if he's so hassled, he should join the party that's in power.
Delhi is still lagging behind in terms of infrastructure and cleanliness. What's your big plan?
Firstly, it's women safety. Women feel unsafe here. And I'm someone who understands their problems. I have lots of plans for this. Second is garbage management. Not just Lutyens or South Delhi, East Delhi also needs attention and needs to be cleaned. I've already attached karamcharis and local volunteers for a swachh Delhi. Swachh Abhiyan needs real implementation especially in East Delhi.
Even Kejriwal made claims about changing Delhi. Isn't it?
Then why did he run away in 49 days? Firstly, he entered into a pact with Congress to which he was opposed initially - the UPA government and the Lokpal issue. He never wanted to be a CM. He wanted to be the PM and that's why he fought against Modi and lost, thankfully! Otherwise you can't imagine in what state, the country would've been.
You think Kejriwal is not fit to be the CM?
No, because he's inexperienced. He's negative and agitational. Whereas I am inclusive and I know how to get work done.
Shanti Bhushan said it is BJP's master stroke – for including you in the party. Your take?
I've thanked him for his kind words. But it's for Delhi to choose whether they want anarchy or an all-inclusive government.
AAP members said you could have joined their party too. Your comment?
I saw all this anarchy earlier also in AAP, but our goal was same at that point - Lokpal Bill. They held so many press conferences for no reason, without even informing Anna. At that time, we wanted Lokpal. But I left them because I can't be with a party like that.
Congress says you and Kejriwal both have betrayed Anna.
I was with him till Lokpal was passed, Kejriwal was the one who left midway.
Did you consult Anna before agreeing to be the BJP's CM candidate?
He doesn't believe in political parties. He thinks it is unconstitutional.
Will you be able to get BJP a mandate which was missed last time?
We will, by God's grace. Because Delhi's destiny is now about to be joined with that of the Centre - for women safety, growth and good governance.
--The interview will be telecast at 8 pm on Zee Business on January 29.