Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Harsh Vardhan to be BJP\'s chief ministerial candidate in Delhi

NEW DELHI: Ending uncertainty, the BJP on Wednesday named Harsh Vardhan as the party\'s chief ministerial candidate for the December 4 Delhi assembly elections despite opposition by city unit chief Vijay Goel who had staked claim for the post.

The decision was taken at a meeting of party\'s parliamentary board here.

Party president Rajnath Singh made the announcement at press conference and said the decision was unanimous and that Goel had also consented to it.

Singh was flanked by several senior leaders including veteran L K Advani, senior leaders Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar and Delhi election in charge Nitin Gadkari.

Goel and Vardhan were also both present at the press conference.

All members of the parliamentary board were in the meeting except Narendra Modi who has given his consent to the decision, party sources said.

The party expects that by presenting Vardhan, a former health minister who has a clean image, as the chief ministerial candidate it will be able to put up a tough fight to dethrone the Congress dispensation which has been in power for the last 15 years.

Stiff challenge

Known for his clean image, Harsh Vardhan will face a stiff challenge of uniting the faction-ridden BJP as his nomination to the post comes after a bitter internal squabble that had threatened to derail the party\'s campaign to wrest power after 15 years in the capital.

An RSS member since his childhood, Vardhan, who was health minister between 1993-98 in BJP government in Delhi, is known for his simplicity and the party\'s top brass believes he is capable of turning around its fortune in the December 4 polls after three successive defeats.

59-year-old Vardhan is known to share a very cordial relationship with RSS and people close to him say he still retains the Swayamsevak\'s tendency to downplay the \"Swayam\" (self) giving precedence to \"Seva\" (service).

Vardhan, a practicing ENT surgeon, had entered the political fray in 1993 when he successfully contested the assembly polls from Krishna Nagar constituency in East Delhi in 1993. He went on to retain the seat in the 1998, 2003 and 2008 assembly elections.

Fondly called \"Doctor Saab\" by supporters and opponents alike, Vardhan is known for his efforts in eradicating polio in Delhi when he was the health minister.

Senior Delhi BJP leaders said his anointment to the top post will help the party give a tough fight to both Aam Admi Party and Congress.

During his Ministership in the Delhi government (1993-98), people had found him remarkably accessible and officials respected him for his hands-on style of functioning.

\"He joined politics with the laudable objective of using his considerable medical knowledge and experience for serving the common man,\" former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had said once about Vardhan.

In late 2003, he was appointed as president of Delhi BJP. He is credited with rebuilding the party at the grassroots level after the party\'s defeat in the assembly polls that year. In April 2007, the party recaptured power in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and in 2008, the party emerged victorious in the Delhi Cantonment Board election under his leadership.

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