(Shobhaa De is an established writer, columnist, opinion shaper and social commentator, who is considered an authority on popular culture.)
It was that ice cream pink Pathan Suit that did Kiran Bedi in! I mean… PINK? Seriously? By then, the voter had made up his/her mind – Delhiwallas were okay with mufflers of various hues. But strictly no Pink Pathan Suits for their Chief Minister. This is where the eminent Judge saab Makarandey Katju enters the picture. He had voiced a theory earlier (and everybody had slammed him for making such a blatantly sexist remark) that Shazia Ilmi deserved the BJP nomination far more than Kiran Bedi. He had taken it upon himself to convert the election into a Miss Delhi beauty contest and confidently stated that had Narendra Modi/Amit Shah/Arun Jaitley (not necessarily in that order) picked looks and youth over experience and age, Shazia Ilmi would have walked away with the nomination – and possibly, won!
But the Big Boys of the BJP picked Kiran Bedi.
Nothing wrong with picking Ms Bedi. Or…. or…. everything wrong! For one, it seemed like a manipulative and cold-blooded decision, given the history of that relationship. For another, once she had the coveted nomination in her pocket, Kiran Bedi picked up her old service revolver and shot herself in the foot… when she wasn’t shooting her mouth off, that is! This was so cringe-making that even old buddy Anna Hazare refused to take her calls!
Heady with the new opportunities staring her in the face out of the ‘rosy blue’, Kiran went to town, making a total ass of herself as she heaped praise on ex-foe Narendra Modi. This was not the best move – and voters looked for the nearest bush behind which to puke (“His is the most beautiful face in the world…” etc etc). Picking Kiran and aggressively projecting her as the Chief Ministerial candidate was Modi’s most obvious misjudgment. Possibly an expensive after-thought, once the team figured that Delhi was not going to be a cake walk. Inviting Bedi to occupy a VIP seat at the Republic Day parade was an even bigger faux pas. The packaging and positioning of Kiran should have been left to those shadowy chaps in the BJP who control imaging, and do a pretty neat job of it. Either Modi had become so cocksure of his own abilities to pull off this coup that he himself side lined his A-Team, or his arrogance got the better of him. Combine Narendra Modi’s inflated vanity with Kiran Bedi’s monumental ego and what do you get? A crass monogrammed suit for the Prime Minster, and a Pink Panther outfit for his hand- picked Chief Ministerial candidate. Sartorial suicides!
Would Shazia have done the trick? No chance! Her track record and hasty induction into a party she had publicly trashed on multiple occasions would have ensured an even more humiliating defeat for her and the party. In fact, so short-sighted has been Shazia’s opportunistic move that she too may have to lick her wounds and get back to her old day job at a television channel. Both ladies have self-destructed spectacularly, and there is no way they’ll be able to recover lost terrain in a hurry.
Kiran Bedi is nobody’s fool. She has demonstrated that in the past. But neither is the voter! She jumped into the fray for the wrong reasons, at the wrong time, and was ill-prepared, out of her depth and rather silly when it came to dealing with real issues. Ducking out of a public debate with Arvind Kejriwal made her appear evasive and darpok. Had she brazened it out, perhaps she would not have faced such a crushing defeat. And had her new political mentor Narendra Modi not announced her name as the BJP’s Chief Ministerial candidate at the last minute, thereby ticking off a bunch of more deserving party loyalists, perhaps he himself would not have looked this dheela.
The blame for the party’s abject humiliation in the Capital of India rests squarely with the BJP high command and the leader. You know the old saying: You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people, all the time! Win some, lose some, boys. That’s how the political cookie crumbles. Take it on the chin… and move on. But first – ditch that wretched monogrammed suit.
As for Ms Bedi. Worry not. From a Rose Pink Pathan Suit to a Rosy Blue one, it’s only a matter of colour co-ordinating one’s wardrobe according to one’s convenience. Kiran’s pretty good at being a quick change artist – she’ll survive!
Delhi’s Pink Panther is feeling blue! BOO HOO….