Worried that Kiran Bedi, its presumptive Chief Minster, has not been able to match the crowds that her main rival, Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party, is drawing at election rallies, the BJP is bringing out its big guns in the capital in the final lap.
Of particular worry is the disinterest of senior Delhi BJP leaders in supporting Ms Bedi’s campaign, sources said.
Key party strategist Arun Jaitley has been tasked with bringing together the BJP’s campaign efforts in the capital, with regular meetings at the Delhi BJP office, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address four rallies in the next few days. Also 11 central ministers and 17 lawmakers of the party are now being deployed in the campaign for Delhi, where elections are 10 days away.
The BJP made a shift in strategy for Delhi, choosing to project a local leader rather than bank solely on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity, as it has done in recent state elections.
Union Minister Nirmala Sitaraman denied that nervousness over Mr Kejriwal has made the BJP bring out its heavy ammunition. “It’s part of the BJP’s political strategy and warfare to help the state unit. Once you near the deadline there are many things you need to do. Party workers work with a lot of intentions and emotions and its to important to take everyone along,” she said.
Senior Delhi leaders are upset that Ms Bedi, a former top cop and political novice, was para-dropped as the CM candidate four days after she joined the BJP. She has also made comments that have not quite endeared her to her colleagues.
At a roadshow in Krishna Nagar, the safe seat picked for her by the BJP, the absence of Union Minister Dr Harshvardhan was conspicuous yesterday. The minister – who was the Krishna Nagar MLA five times before contesting national elections last year – had so far accompanied Ms Bedi on all her tours.
Party sources said the Minister, who is a medical doctor, is upset over Ms Bedi saying at a rally, “Doctor sahib has been taking care of Krishna Nagar now I will also be your doctor.”
His supporters are incensed as what they see as “belittling” of the veteran leader, who was the BJP’s candidate for Chief Minister in the last elections, and is widely seen to have been snubbed when the party leadership chose to front Ms Bedi.