New Delhi: Celebrated former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, who parted ways with AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal around two years ago, Thursday joined the BJP, saying Delhi needs a stable and honest government.
At an event attended by Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, she also lavished praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “inspirational leadership”.
Bedi, India’s first woman police officer, and Kejriwal were partners in social activist Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign which shook India in 2011, eventually leading to the birth of the Aam Aadmi Party.
Bedi and Kejriwal later fell out. Even as Kejriwal took a more and more stridently anti-Congress, anti-BJP line, Bedi began to bat for the BJP and Prime Minister Modi.
Addressing the media after joining the party formally by dialling a toll-free number, started for the party’s mass membership drive, the 65-year-old Bedi expressed her gratitude for Modi.
“I’m grateful to the prime minister. I am here because of his (Modi) inspirational leadership,” she said, speaking in Hindi and in a style that indicated she was set to spearhead the BJP’s battle in the capital.
She credited the prime minister for pushing her to embrace political work from just being a social activist.
“If people like me have changed, I think crores would have changed. A new faith has taken place after May (2014)… I have been inspired.
“I devoted myself to the country since 1970 when I began teaching and joined the Indian Police Service in 1972. I have 40 years of administrative experience. That’s what I will give to Delhi.
“Delhi needs a strong, clear-headed, stable, experienced government.”
A former tennis player whose innings in Delhi Police is still widely remembered, Bedi said no evil would be tolerated in the city. She insisted that she knew how to get work done. “I’m in a mission mode.”
Bedi took voluntary retirement in 2007 – 13 years after she won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for government work – when a junior officer was made the Delhi Police chief bypassing her.
She promised to make New Delhi – a teeming city of over 17 million – the No.1 capital in the world. “It’s a dream and we will realise it together.
“I’m so happy the BJP has given me an opportunity to give to Delhi whatever I have.”
Shah and Jaitley said Bedi’s entry was bound to strength the BJP, which in December 2013 failed to get a majority in the 70-member assembly because of the AAP’s stunning debut performance when it took 28 seats.
Shah said Bedi would very much contest the Feb 7 election but said the chief ministerial candidate would be decided only after the results become known.
“She will certainly contest the election. Who will be the chief minister will be decided by the parliamentary board,” he said.
In an obvious reference to Kejriwal, Shah quickly added that Bedi had not joined the BJP to contest against “any particular person”.
Earlier in the day, there was intense speculation that former AAP leader Shazia Ilmi and actor-turned-politician Jaya Prada were also set to join the BJP.
Jaya Prada, a former MP, later told reporters that while she admired the BJP and its leadership, she had not yet decided on becoming a member of the party.
Ilmi, who quit the AAP last year, has already begun to identify herself with BJP activities.