BJP's Big Delhi Catch: Kiran Bedi to Counter AAP's Kejriwal

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BJP's Big Delhi Catch: Kiran Bedi to Counter AAP's Kejriwal

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National BJP President Amit Shah presents a bouquet to former IPS officer Kiran Bedi to welcome her into the party during a press conference in New Delhi. (PTI)

New Delhi:  Delhi's best known former cop and activist Kiran Bedi has joined the BJP. Party chief Amit Shah confirmed that she will contest the assembly elections from Delhi next month. (Highlights)

Ms Bedi, 65, drove up to the BJP headquarters in Delhi with Mr Shah this evening and shared stage with him and other top leaders like Arun Jaitley and Dr Harshvardhan as she was formally inducted into the party.

Mr Shah welcomed Ms Bedi to the party and said her joining would strengthen the Delhi unit of the BJP. He did not comment when asked whether she would be fielded in next month's election against Aam Aadmi Party president Arvind Kejriwal or whether she would be the BJP's chief ministerial candidate, saying that was a decision for the party's parliamentary board to take. 

But Ms Bedi, who said she has joined the BJP "due to the PM's inspirational leadership," gently reminded the party that she brings "40 years of administrative experience," to the table.

She also said, "When I was overlooked for the police commissioner, I left because the work that I was given was not challenging enough."

This is Ms Bedi's first foray into active politics. Last year, in an interview to NDTV, she said was ready to take the plunge and that, "I will consider myself to be ready for it if such an offer is made," when asked if she would accept an offer to be fielded as a candidate for CM.

The BJP has not named a presumptive CM for Delhi, where elections will be held on February 7. It will extend its successful strategy of making PM Modi the party's face in the state election, leaders have said.

It does, however, need to find a local leader to take on Arvind Kejriwal, who is the AAP's candidate for chief minister, in his New Delhi constituency, which he wrested from former chief minister of the Congress Sheila Dikshit in December 2013.

Both Ms Bedi and Mr Kejriwal were prominent members of what was called Team Anna, a core group of activists who worked closely with Gandhian activist Anna Hazare when he launched his campaign to demand a bill to appoint a Lokpal or national ombudsman against graft.

After Ms Bedi was formally inducted in the party today, Aam Aadmi Party leader Mr Kejriwal tweeted, "I have been fond of Kiran Bedi ji. I always tried to convince her that she shud (sic) join politics. I am happy she did it today."

Mr Kejriwal later fell out with Mr Hazare over his decision to launch a political party. Ms Bedi has since been a stern critic of Mr Kejriwal, who resigned last year as Delhi's chief minister after 49 days in office.


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