End of political road for Kiran Bedi?

New Delhi


"It is not my defeat, it is a defeat of the BJP." With this telling statement following her humiliating defeat in the Delhi assembly election, the decorated police officer-turned-political debutante may well have written off her short-lived political flirtation - and probably burnt her political boats - that saw her being pitchforked surprisingly as the leader of the party's campaign in Delhi to being roundly rejected by the people of the capital - all in the space of a heady fortnight.

In a career spanning over three decades in policing, India's first woman Indian Police Service officer Kiran Bedi faced many challenging tasks. But in her new political avatar of leading the country's ruling party in the Delhi polls, she faced probably her life's toughest test with the BJP banking on her 'tough taskmaster' image to win power in the capital that witnessed arguably the most interesting electoral battle since its first assembly election in 1993.

But Bedi’s defeat has been all the more humiliating especially in her losing the BJPs bastion of Krishna Nagar, considered a safe seat. The seat has been represented by Harsh Vardhan, who is now a union minister, since 1993.

She lost by 2,277 votes. The winner is the virtually unknown Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member S.K. Bagga, an advocate, who polled 65,919 votes to her 63,642 votes.

Bagga, in his 60s, is described by his supporters as a soft-spoken, confident man. He pitched his battle against Kiran Bedi as an "insider vs outsider" contest.

When BJP party president Amit Shah named Bedi as chief ministerial candidate, foisting her over the heads of the senior party workers who have toiled long years on the ground for the party, it triggered seething resentment in the ranks over her surprise entry.

Bedi, 65, was viewed as an “outsider” in the party having never risen from the ranks. The election rallies by Bedi, known for her unconventional and outspoken ways, were mostly lacklustre events though the BJP top brass including Prime Minister Narendra Modi canvassed for her.

Bedi, known for her no-nonsense ways as a top cop in New Delhi in the 1980s and 1990s, was called Delhi’s Iron Lady and Crane Bedi, for having reportedly towed away former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s car parked outside a shop in Connaught Circus on Aug 5, 1982.

But doubts were cast on her having actually towed away Gandhi’s car. In a recent TV interview she clarified that a “DCP (Deputy Commissioner of Police) never tows a vehicle.”

Bedi, who was a key member of Team Anna during the Lokpal movement and worked closely with AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal, described her former colleague as a "liar" and as someone whose influence was "toxic".

After she joined the BJP, social media re-tweeted her previous critical comments against the BJP and especially about Modi over the 2002 Godhra riots. After joining the BJP, Bedi has been extolling Modi and the BJP repeatedly at every opportunity,

She said her defeat and the party’s was “not a referendum on Modi”.

Asked about her defeat, Bedi retorted quickly 'I did not lose. The BJP lost. They should introspect why'. And added, for good measure: 'I am core member of BJP.”

Winner of the Ramon Magsaysay award, Bedi was credited with reforming the lives of inmates of Tihar Jail as Inspector General (Prisons), Delhi. - IANS