Former Indian Police Service officer Kiran Bedi’s decision to join the Bharatiya Janata Party was received with mixed reactions. Certain political analysts have hailed her appointment as a canny move to counter the Aam Aadmi Party in the upcoming Delhi assembly elections. Others, however, have called her decision to join the BJP as mere political opportunism. Whatever the perception, one thing is clear.
In entering the electoral fray, Bedi will have to undergo the sharp and often unforgiving public scrutiny of her career in public service and decision to join politics. In 2012, Bedi had vehemently opposed Arvind Kerjriwal’s decision to form a political party based on the enormous goodwill earned during the India Against Corruption movement. Subsequently, the former IPS officer had declined various offers to join the erstwhile greenhorn party, as she had expressed a strong disinclination for politics. However, in an interview with a TV channel last year, soon after the BJP had announced Narendra Modi’s candidature for prime minister, Bedi admitted that she was ready to take the plunge. Today, the former IPS officer thanks Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘inspirational leadership’ in propelling her to join the BJP. The past, however, has a strange way of making itself heard in the remorseless arena of politics and public perception.
Until a few months before Modi was elected as India’s Prime Minister, Bedi had continuously attacked him for his role in the Gujarat riots. In one of her tweets, early last year, Bedi said that Modi ‘will need to respond with clarity about (the) riot massacre, despite courts clearing him so far’. In fact, in April 2012, she argued that although Modi may have cleared the SIT probe on his alleged role in the Gujarat riots, the test of ‘prevailing perception of serious incidents’ under his government‘s watch still lingers. It is not beyond the realm of imagination that Bedi might have reconstructed her position and thoughts surrounding Modi after he was elected Prime Minister. Bedi will also have to address many uncomfortable questions about her public service record, despite the overriding ‘image of credibility’.
During her tenure in Mizoram, it was found out that Bedi had secured her daughter’s admission to an MBBS course in Delhi’s Lady Hardinge College under the Mizoram quota. Once news came out, people in the state poured onto the streets, claiming the quota was to ensure benefit for local students and that she had taken advantage of a loophole in the law. As the matter went out of hand, Bedi soon left, with her daughter consequently dropping out of the course. Besides the above incident, there are many other untoward allegations surrounding her public service record, which she will have to answer, if she does get projected as BJP’s chief minister candidate.