Whose fancy: a personal aspiration for the gaddi or someone else&’s desire to place her on it? The query may appear to have been overtaken by events, but it retains significance in the larger scheme of political affairs. The query arises from Kiran Bedi&’s recent assertion that she was through with party politics, will not contest elections again, and will invest herself in public service. Now at one level that might appear to reek of cowardice, backing off after just one electoral reverse: politicians are supposed to be made of sterner stuff.
Yet as a leading tennis player Ms Bedi would be familiar with the special thrill of “bouncing back”; recovering from being one set down to take the match in three. Similarly, it would be a trifle demeaning to accuse her of being interested in nothing short of chief ministerial office, unattracted by mere membership of a legislature. Yet coming just months after she spearheaded the BJP into an electoral nosedive, speculation will run rife.
Is her “retirement” confirmation of her dismay at not getting the full backing of the party after being lured into believing she was heading for a cakewalk? Or is she a victim of resentment at her being drafted into the fray and offered the coveted office at the expense of others who had worked long for the party even if not effectively? There was evidence of a lack of grassroots support during the campaign itself, few party workers canvassed for her and left it to “national” leaders to press her case.
This also required building fences with sections who had not appreciated her functioning in her police avatar. There was much “buzz” that the unhappiness over her being projected as the chief ministerial candidate diluted a key BJP strength that of getting the voter “out”. Why, the party hardly distributed “voters’ slips”. A huge factor in its 3-67 rout. Overall proof that the “induction-experiment” flopped. An obvious conclusion is that despite the “appeal” of Narendra Modi and the “muscle/manipulation” of Amit Shah, the local strength of a party is critical during elections a megastar is not always good enough.
It was not just the “imposing” of Ms Bedi that proved negative, the sidelining (continuing?) of the local favourite Dr Harsh Vardhan also impacted. In fact the party is in such disarray that even if its dirty-tricks department works overtime to have the AAP government ejected, there is no guarantee of the BJP recovering from five straight defeats at the Delhi hustings. The failure to involve local units and give them a leader in whom they have time-tested confidence took its toll, parachutists clearly make poor politicians. An early warning for Bihar?