Bikram Vohra comments on Top Cop Kiran Bedi as she assumes new post in ‘Pudu’cherry’
Someone out there with rare ingenuity has spread a computer virus called ‘Sonia disowns Rahul’ which, if you are silly enough to download (or excited enough), it will wreck your memory and do all sorts of wicked things to your machine. So, don’t. However tempting it might be.
Against this virulence, the only other major competition in the ‘hate this’ stakes for the day is the appointment of Kiran ‘Crane’ Bedi as the Lieutenant-Governor of Puducherry. As a friend of 32 years, I am happy for her. She is a tough nut and actually does it her way, often veering off the obviously wise path but ready to espouse any controversy and wear it with the same dedication as Aishwarya Rai Bachchan dons a gown on the red carpet at Cannes.
I don’t know what it is about Kiran that makes you feel oddly secure. Even if she goes off at a tangent and bruises her own PR, she will get the job done. Even when you are at loggerheads, its stimulating. We first met when I was running a newspaper in Goa in 1983 and was to fetch her for dinner. I. Forgot. To. Fetch. Her.
She called at 9 pm to say she was waiting and it was the first time anyone had kept her waiting. Ah, the arrogance of youth. Anyway, when she finally arrived with somebody else, she said shrugged off my rudeness and asked if I played tennis. I said no, I play squash.
And for the past 30-odd years, Strike Three has been hanging on a slender thread. As though anything could bring the sword of her wrath upon me. During her Anna Hazare period, I ribbed her mercilessly and even wrote that she was making a caricature of herself, but by then, her enormous charity work had softened her centre, so to speak, and Kiran’s media-created monster side of her image had become a bit of a pussycat looking for an elusive ball of wool, but certainly still seeking the limelight, even if it was sour.
Anna Hazare, she truly believed, was a game-changer. He would dredge a channel for her to pour her angst against a system that had frequently deprived her out of her right. Even that transfer to Goa was supposedly a career punishment for taking on her superiors.
Over the years, I have often taken her on about that semi-mythical story of impounding Indira Gandhi’s car for being wrongly parked. That legend has become so obfuscated even Kiran probably cannot recall exactly how things went down.
Did she exploit it? You bet.
Did she use the fact that she was a woman in uniform to generate an edge for herself? You bet.
Did she often get brash and a bit of bully? That, too.
But what she did for morale in Tihar Jail, coupled with her brutal honesty and in your face ‘what you see is what you get’ fed the conspiracies of the anti-Kiran brigades. Within the police, in government, certainly with politicians. For being impervious to atmosphere, Kiran is tough to beat.
Champion of the underdog, she never let up on doing good things for little people.
Kiran began to lose her battles, if not her spirit. There were too many fronts and the media was horribly unkind, turning her into a parody that she fed herself into by making absurd decisions in her desire to become powerful again.
When she joined Arvind’s broomstick for a ride to the stars everyone thought the old Kiran Bedi has crushed her own cake, she has tanked, the mojo is gone.
Friends began to skirt away.
A bit embarrassed.
Almost wondering just what she was clowning about for.
It hurt her, especially the brouhaha over her being sidelined for the role of LG of Delhi and yes, she did critique Prime Minister Narendra Modi and harshly, too. But politics make for strange bedfellows and she has been given another bite at the cherry. Much to the annoyance of her detractors and the awkwardness of her former friends.
Will she change things? You bet.
Do we expect more discretion and restraint? If I was the chief minister, I would not sleep easy.
So who will do well by it? The public. They will love her. She will go to war for them even if her drummer is muffled. Unless, of course they forget to fetch her for dinner.