15/01/2015 5:57 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST

Kiran Bedi Joins BJP, Will Contest In Delhi Elections

The India Today Group via Getty Images
NEW DELHI, INDIA NOVEMBER 23: Social activist Kiran Bedi addressing the World Hindu Congress 2014 in New Delhi.(Photo by Ramesh Sharma/India Today Group/Getty Images)

With three weeks to go for Delhi elections, Thursday saw big announcements and high drama, with prominent former Aam Admi Party face Kiran Bedi announcing that she will be joining BJP and contesting from the capital.

The former senior cop formally joined BJP in the presence of party president Amit Shah, who announced that she would be contesting from Delhi.

"Kiran Bedi has joined the BJP. I welcome her. Her joining the party will strengthen the Delhi BJP. For fulfilling the aspirations of Delhi's voters, we get a colleague," said Shah in a press conference on Thursday. "Her positive contribution will help the BJP. She will contest the elections."

While it is as yet unclear which constituency she would be fighting from, there is speculation that she may be BJP's chief ministerial candidate. Shah was non-committal on the issue.

"Every BJP worker aspires to and is capable of becoming the chief minister. A decision in this regard would be taken by the BJP parliamentary board," he said.

Bedi had earlier been a prominent member for Team Anna, shoulder to shoulder with Arvind Kejriwal during the campaign against corruption that later became the Aam Aadmi Party.

Bedi had earlier in the day tweeted that Delhi and Delhites do not deserve this kind of prolonged negativity.

On Thursday she said that she was inspired by Narendra Modi's leadership, saying she was grateful to him, and that he had "changed her."

On Twitter, many pointed out how her attitude towards Modi has taken a 180 degree turn.

Meanwhile former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Shazia Ilmi, who left the party in May last year, has avowed that she would "expose" AAP. She had earlier claimed that there is lack of inner party democracy in the party. She had also accused Kejriwal of ignoring other leaders and being surrounded by a 'crony clique'.

"I want to expose the AAP for what it is and so I will do whatever I can to that effect," Ilmi said on Thursday. "There are many AAP members and AAP volunteers, the people who are disenchanted with the party, people who feel have been short-changed by AAP."

Rumoured to join BJP soon, Ilmi has steadfastly denied joining any political party in the near future or contesting for elections.

The journalist-turned-social-activist has not said that she would join BJP. "I will let you know my plans of joining BJP or not," she said.

Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia are expected to file their nominations for Delhi elections next week.

Actress-turned-politician Jaya Prada, too, is expected to join the BJP. She told media that she admired Narendra Modi and his leadership—similar to Kiran Bedi's remarks on Thursday. She had been a Rajya Sabha member from the Samajwadi Party in the past.

According to a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, the party is banking on the actor's glamour quotient to win the New Delhi seat won by Kejriwal in 2013 after defeating three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit, IANS reported.

The former actress had earlier unsuccessfully fought the 2014 Lok Sabha election as a Rashtriya Lok Dal candidate from Bijnor.

Others entering the fray include Bahujan Samaj Party's Mayawati, who announced that her party would be contesting from all 70 constituencies in Delhi.

The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister told media on Thursday, "I am starting the election campaign for the Delhi Vidhan Sabha elections today... our party would contest all the 70 seats on our own."

She said that the BJP would now mislead Delhi voters to garner votes.

"But Dalits, backward castes and others should know that central government, without making arrangement of quotas in the private sector, have started giving important works to the private sector belonging to capitalists, resulting in these sections getting very little benefit of reservation", she said.

She did not spare AAP or Congress either, claiming Kejriwal "has gone a step ahead of BJP and is the votary of ending reservation and has also given statements in this direction."

She called the Congress party "inconsistent."

"Congress too has had an inconsistent attitude on these issues. I appeal to the harassed and unhappy people of Delhi on my birthday to decide on their votes intelligently", she said, urging voters to not elect BJP, AAP, or Congress.

In the last Delhi election in December 2013, BJP had won 31 seats, just falling short of a majority in the 70-member House. Though AAP won only 28 seats, Kejriwal was made CM, a post he infamously left after 49 days in power.

The Congress had managed to garner just eight votes, dashing former CM Sheila Dikshit's chances to return to power.

Now Delhi will go on election on February 7, and result will be announced on February 10. If no clear majority emerges, President's rule will apply from February 15, the Election Commission has stated.

(with agency inputs)

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