The BJP’s move to rope in former IPS officer Kiran Bedi was sealed during a meeting she had with party chief Amit Shah at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s residence in the capital at 1pm on Thursday, barely a couple of hours before the development was officially announced.
According to sources, Shah took Bedi to meet Narendra Modi at the Prime Minister’s residence at 1.30 pm, when the PM suggested during a 15-minute interaction that if the party gained power in Delhi after the February 7 elections, Bedi would be picked as Chief Minister.
The sources added that Jaitley had initiated a dialogue on the issue with Bedi a week ago with the duo meeting thrice. “A BJP survey of the mood of voters in Delhi showed that a large number wanted a stronger chief minister,” a source said.
“While the party has a large number of second-rung leaders, the results indicated that a critical percentage of voters were reluctant to vote for the BJP because of the lack of a strong CM face. The survey indicated that Kiran Bedi was a popular choice for CM,” the source added.
Until the meeting at Jaitley’s house on Thursday, BJP’s Delhi leaders had no knowledge of the discussions involving Bedi, the sources said. At 2pm that day, the BJP’s media cell was asked to organise a press conference to announce the development.
According to sources, Jaitley first sounded out Shah about roping in Bedi and found that the party chief was receptive to the idea. It was then that he initiated the first meeting with the former cop, with the discussions gathering pace thereafter, they said.
Revealing details of the discussions, the sources said that Jaitley asked Bedi during their first meeting if she would be interested in joining the party to which she sought some time for a reply.
The next meeting was put on hold with the Finance Minister travelling out of the capital, the sources said, adding that the issue gained momentum again during a subsequent discussion at Jaitley’s residence.
As for Bedi’s meeting with Modi, the sources said the conversation started on expected lines with both offering their assessment of the Delhi elections and the strategy to be followed, with the former raising the issue of women’s security and policing. It was then that the Prime Minister introduced the topic of who would be the party’s choice of CM.