By Rahul Vaishnavi
New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) Troubled by reports that the voters of Krishna Nagar, the constituency of BJP chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi, are not warming up to her, the senior leadership has directed local heavyweight and union minister Harsh Vardhan to “put in extra efforts” to ensure that Bedi wins here by a comfortable margin, party sources said.
Considered to be a “traditional seat” of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Harsh Vardhan – the party’s chief ministerial candidate in the 2013 assembly polls and now a union minister in the Narendra Modi government – held the Krishna Nagar seat since 1993 before winning the Chandni Chowk seat in the April-May 2014 general elections.
Sources said party workers of the east Delhi locality, home to mostly middle-class families, are “demoralised” with Harsh Vardhan being replaced by Bedi, who is being seen as an outsider.
“The response to her road shows and public meetings in Krishna Nagar has been lukewarm. We were expecting better,” a party leader, requesting anonymity, told IANS.
“The party has realized that the face of the campaigning has to be Harsh Vardhan whosoever is the candidate. He has been asked to put in extra efforts to ensure her victory,” the leader added.
Reports of a rift between Harsh Vardhan and Bedi have also been doing the rounds for some time now. After joining the party Jan 15, Bedi had called all the seven Delhi MPs to her residence for tea Jan 20. As Harsh Vardhan arrived late, Bedi left without meeting him, reportedly leaving the minister for science and technology and earth sciences fuming, the sources told IANS.
Harsh Vardhan however accompanied Bedi on her first road show in Krishna Nagar Jan 21, when she filed her nomination papers, and at subsequent public meetings.
Again, earlier this week, Harsh Vardhan was absent from a rally Bedi addressed in Krishna Nagar, apparently peeved by Bedi’s remark at a few days earlier: “Doctor sahib (Harsh Vardhan) has been taking care of Krishna Nagar, now I will also be your doctor.”
The rising differences between the two have left the top leadership worried and with less than a week to go for the polls, the party is desperate to ensure that they reconcile.
“Although it is a safe seat for Bedi, the party wants her to win it by an impressive margin. Moreover, she cannot afford not to have him (Harsh Vardhan) on board as he is the local popular leader.
“The voters can also make out if things are not right,” the sources said, adding that specific instructions have been given to Harsh Vardhan to be present at all of Bedi’s public meetings and rallies as well as intensify the door-to-door campaign.
“He has been assigned the job of making sure that people vote for her (Bedi),” the sources added.
Meanwhile, the BJP has officially denied that Bedi is facing any challenges.
“She is not facing any problems in Krishna Nagar. She is getting the love and support from all the people and will win the seat easily,” BJP state unit spokesperson BJP Ashwini Upadhyay told IANS.
(Rahul Vaishnavi can be contacted at email@example.com)