Former state health minister Harsh Vardhan is BJP’s Delhi CM candidate; Vijay Goel says ‘not upset’
Former state health minister Harsh Vardhan is Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) chief ministerial candidate for the Delhi assembly polls slated for December 4, party officials announced on Wednesday.
The decision was taken following the BJP’s parliamentary board meeting attended by party president Rajnath Singh and senior leader LK Advani among others.
Turning down strong claims made by Delhi BJP chief Vijay Goel, the party’s parliamentary board on Wednesday took the decision in Vardhan’s favour in a meeting at 11am at party’s Ashoka Road head office in New Delhi.
However, sources said the party has already lost precious time and momentum by not announcing the name of chief ministerial candidate for December 4 elections, earlier.
“I am not upset with the party’s decision,” said Goel after the meeting on Wednesday.
Vardhan enjoys the support of Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh – BJP’s parent body – as well as most senior leaders including former president Nitin Gadkari, leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her counterpart in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley.
Sources said the senior party leaders had also discussed the names of some more leaders who have been in Delhi’s politics for a long time but ultimately decided to concentrate on just one person and avoid adding any confusion.
Vardhan is a practicing ENT specialist and has earned the reputation of being an effective health administrator in the previous BJP rule.
While chief minister Sheila Dikshit is the chief campaigner and the face of the Congress party in Delhi, Aam Aadmi Party too has projected Arvind Kejriwal as its leader.
Many BJP leaders believe that, without a credible name leading the party in the elections, the BJP is losing the edge. Goel, in their view, does not fit the bill.
A BJP official said Goel could continue to be the state party chief but may not contest the assembly elections. “He will be party’s candidate in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. He has agreed to it,” he added.
A four-time MLA, Harsh Vardhan enjoys the support of almost every leader in the party now, said another BJP strategist, who added that the party’s parent body.
Apparently, in the weekly meeting of the BJP held on Tuesday, Goel thanked the party workers for supporting him during the last eight months.
“Vijay Goel has probably finally surrendered to the pressure from the party’s central leadership, which has been pushing for Harsh Vardhan’s name for the top post,” a senior party leader said.
Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday morning took to Twitter to target Harsh Vardhan before he was announced as the BJP’s Delhi CM candidate.
“Dr Harsh Vardhan actually praised Mrs Dikshit and said Delhiites were very fortunate to have her. Why fighting against her now?” asked Kejriwal in his tweet.
Kejriwal also asked what Harsh Vardhan had done all these years to check BJP’s corruption in MCD.