Ahead of Delhi polls, BJP ropes in Bedi; Shazia Ilmi, Jaya Prada likely to join party

New Delhi(web team): The BJP has got its “crusader” to take on AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal in its faceless battle for Delhi. Former IPS officer and team Anna Hazare member Kiran Bedi joined BJP on Thursday.

Party president Amit Shah confirmed that Bedi will contest the February 7 election, though he said a decision on her constituency will be taken later. He also made it clear that the party’s parliamentary board will decide on the chief ministerial candidate, when asked if Bedi would be the party’s choice.

However, Bedi, flanked by Shah and finance minister Arun Jaitley, laid out her vision for Delhi saying it needed a strong-headed and stable government. “I know how to work and how to get work done. Dilli ko desh ka dil baneyenge (will make Delhi the heart of the country). We will ensure that Delhi gets a corruption-free government,” she said. She had driven to the party office with Shah after meeting prime minister Narendra Modi.

Bedi said she joined the BJP because of Modi’s “inspirational leadership” and was grateful to him for “reposing faith in me”. She also drove home the point that she had taken VRS when she was “overlooked” for the job of police commissioner as “the job was not challenging enough…. And time was precious.”

The development comes amidst charges levelled by Kejriwal against BJP chief Satish Upadhyay that he had a nexus with firms providing power discoms. In Bedi, the BJP has found a credible anti-corruption face to lead the party’s campaign against Kejriwal. Shah and Jaitley said Bedi’s induction will strengthen the party.

Bedi’s appearing on the election horizon has caused some discomfort in the AAP, which is bracing up for a tougher battle if she contests against Kejriwal. Besides Bedi, Shazia Ilmi, another former confidant of Arvind Kejriwal, is likely to join the BJP on Friday. Actress turned politician Jaya Prada will also be joining the party.

Shazia has been close to Delhi BJP unit ever since she quit AAP in May last year. She was also nominated by the prime minister as one of the ambassadors of Swachh Bharat campaign. Ilmi was likely to join the party on Thursday. Sources within the BJP informed that she is still negotiating with the party over the seat she would contest from. Ilmi wants to contest from RK Puram. She had contested from the seat on AAP ticket in 2013 election and had lost by 306 votes. Anil Sharma is the BJP MLA from the area.

The BJP wants Ilmi to contest from New Delhi seat against Kejriwal, which she has refused to. The party is now offering her Okhla assembly seat, which is predominantly a Muslim dominated seat. Ilmi and BJP are yet to reach a consensus on the issue.

Prada, who had contested and lost the Lok Sabha election from Uttar Pradesh on Rashtriya Lok Dal ticket, has expressed her keenness to join the BJP.