Kiran Bedi, Shazia Ilmi, Harsh Vardhan and Who Else?
- It is now confirmed that Delhi is headed for fresh elections as the BJP has declared itself unable to form a government in spite of being the single largest party with the most number of seats in the Delhi legislative assembly. After months of dilly dallying, lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung has finally reported as much to the President and has pressed for an immediate dissolution of the Delhi assembly followed by fresh elections.
- However a lot has changed in the intervening months since the people of Delhi elected sufficient numbers of AAP representatives (the party won 28 seats as against BJP’s 32) to make AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal Chief Minister of the state. Many of the front runner members of the AAP have either altered allegiances or have shown their displeasure and disillusionment with the functioning of the AAP or the still anarchistic leanings of Kejriwal.
- Kejriwal is of the view that his party will win as many as 40 to 45 seats when fresh assembly elections are held in Delhi. His promises for the coming elections include overhaul of higher education and subsidised education, policies favouring new entrepreneurs, making Delhi a Wi Fi city, reducing VAT, youth centric programmes, and improved women’s security measures in the city.
- Kejriwal will have to inventive this time around, with the BJP practically hijacking his clean campaign with their Swachh Bharat programme. Realizing that his anti corruption platform may not be enough to woo voters this time around, he has relied on a wider range of political issues this time around. He has even admitted that the biggest political lesson that he has learnt is “to never give one’s resignation”.
- Though Dr Harsh Vardhan is still likely to present a challenge in the state, (he was the BJP’s candidate the last time around) his lessening clout in his own party could lessen the acuity of that challenge. This time around, the fight for Delhi may be between BJP’s projected CM candidate Manish Sisodia and Kejriwal. The BJP is likely to pull out all the stops to ensure that they are able to sweep Delhi and replicate their recent wins in Haryana and Maharashtra. But more importantly it will be against some of his own former colleagues.
- The formidable Kiran Bedi is one of those who may present stiff opposition to Kejriwal – as far back as May of this year; she had indicated that she would be willing to become BJP’s CM nominee if required. The speculation in this regard is still rife, with many conjecturing that Kiran Bedi may be named BJP’s CM candidate.
- Shazia Ilmi is someone else who could present a challenge – she recently complained that her party made her a sacrificial lamb for the LS polls. Having resigned from the party she helped found, Ilmi now finds herself in a position that is in direct conflict with Kejriwal and the AAP. She has accused Kejriwal of fostering the ‘high command system’ within his own party; something that he has himself deplored in the past. Ilmi’s public support of the BJP’s Clean India campaign is causing speculation that she may be joining the BJP.
- So Kejriwal is really going to have his work cut out for him – he will be facing opposition from traditional foes such as Harsh Vardhan as well as old friends such as Bedi and Ilmi. Currently his boast of 40-45 seats rings distinctly hollow.