New Delhi: Former IPS officer and key member of erstwhile 'Team Anna' Kiran Bedi joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday and will contest the upcoming Assembly elections in Delhi.
Bedi was inducted into the party fold by BJP president Amit Shah at a function held at the party headquarters in the national capital. Union Ministers Arun Jaitley and Harsh Vardhan, Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay, MP Vijay Goel and party's in-charge of Delhi affairs Prabhat Jha were also present.
While Bedi and other BJP leaders gave ample hints that she may be the face of BJP's poll campaign for Delhi polls, it remains to be seen whether she will anointed as the party's CM candidate.
When quizzed by reporters on the matter, Shah said party's Parliamentary Board will take a call on the issue after election results are out but added that her induction will "hugely strengthen" the Delhi unit.
"Bedi's constructive contribution will play an important role in ensuring that BJP lives up to the expectation of the people in the election and in any future government," he said.
The induction of Bedi is being read as a masterstroke by Shah to neutralise the AAP's endeavour to turn the poll campaign as a battle of personalities but it remains unclear whether she will pitched against Arvind Kejriwal from the New Delhi seat.
Addressing the media, Bedi said, "I joined BJP due to the inspirational leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Delhi needs a strong, clear headed and stable government. We have to make it capital number one in the world," she said.
Praising Modi, she said the nation has seen "revival of hope" under him and it changed her as well. She had earlier decided to be fully dedicated to her social work but was not taking the plunge into politics.
Interestingly, she also pitched her leadership credentials and said she knows "how to work and how to make others work".
Bedi said she was in a "mission mode" and she took up a challenge only when she liked what it had in store for her.
"Time is precious for me... I always think what is the content of my job. We all have to work together. I will dedicate everything I have to Delhi, to country. I am very happy that the BJP has given me this opportunity," she said.
She recalled that she had taken voluntary retirement after being "overlooked" for the Delhi Police Commissioner's post as she did not find her then assignment "challenging" enough.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that an experienced and credible person like former IPS officer Kiran Bedi joining his party would strengthen the saffron party.
Jaitley said the BJP has always made an effort that experienced, credible and good people of the society get associated with it.
"The Bharatiya Janata Party has always made an effort that experienced, credible and good people of the society get associated to our party," Jaitley said.
"And since the last two to three decades, compared to other parties, we are in this continuous effort." he added.
Hailing Bedi's decision to join the BJP, Jaitley said, "We welcome her to our party and believe that the BJP will get strengthened with the joining of such experienced and credible person".
Meanwhile, media reports suggested that some senior leader who had nursed chief ministerial ambition are not enthused by Bedi's induction.
Importantly, the BJP has so far projected Narendra Modi as its face for poll campaigning and stressed that the party will fight the Delhi polls under a collective leadership.
However, given Bedi's assertion that she's on “mission mode”, it's clear that she has been brought in at leadership level.
Can Kiran Bedi save Delhi BJP's sinking ship, asks Arvind Kejriwal
While Bedi never mentioned Aam Aadmi Party during her speech but Kejirwal was quick to react to the development.
In a subtle dig at Bedi, Kejriwal said he had also tried to convince her to take a plunge into politics and that he is happy now that she has joined it.
"I have been fond of Kiran Bedi ji. I always tried to convince her that she should join politics. I am happy she did it today," Kejriwal tweeted.
The AAP chief followed it up with another tweet: "Can Kiran Bediji save the rattled, direction less BJP, which is saving an imminent defeat. This is the real question."
However, AAP leader Sanjay Singh was more forthright with his views on Bedi joining BJP.
"It is sad and shocking that Bedi who had been maintaining that she will always remain apolitical and keep raising the issues of people has joined the BJP. Our best wishes are with her," he said.
Kejriwal had even invited her to join AAP and be the party's chief ministerial candidate before assembly polls in 2013 which she had declined.
Both Bedi and Kejriwal were part of Anna Hazare's India Against Corruption but parted ways after
Kejriwal decided to float a political party in October 2012. She was severely critical of his decision. Later she also slammed him for staging a dharna outside the Rail Bhavan during his 49-day government.