Dr Harsh Vardhan: From ENT doctor to BJP’s Delhi CM candidate

Fondly called `Dr Sahab`, Harsh Vardhan is Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi Chief Ministerial candidate.

Kamna Arora

Fondly called `Dr Sahab`, Harsh Vardhan is Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi Chief Ministerial candidate. An ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist by profession, Vardhan entered the political circles in 1993 and was elected from Krishna Nagar constituency in east Delhi. The charismatic leader continued to hold on to that seat in the 1998, 2003 and 2008 Assembly Elections. A modest leader, Vardhan held various portfolios, including education, law and health in the BJP government.

Known for his simplicity, Vardhan, in former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s words, has “proved his organisational capabilities by rebuilding the BJP’s operations in Delhi virtually from scratch after the party’s defeat in the 2003 Assembly Election. The BJP high command was so impressed by his determination to build up a solid party structure in Delhi that it took the historic step of giving him a third term as President in 2007. This is unprecedented for any state unit of the party.”

The second child of late Om Prakash Goel and Snehlata Devi, Vardhan was born on December 13, 1954. He studied at the Anglo-Sanskrit Victoria Jubilee Senior Secondary School in Daryaganj, which was founded in 1869. He obtained his MBBS and MS with specialisation in ENT from GSVM Medical College in Kanpur. After coming back to Delhi to practice as an ENT surgeon, Vardhan joined the Indian Medical Association’s Delhi Chapter. Then he held various posts in the Delhi Medical Association.

Married to Nutan, a specialist in hospital administration, Vardhan has two sons – Dr Mayank Bharat, who has done his MBBS and MBA from Indian School of Business, Hyderabad; Sachin, who did his Accountancy and Finance graduation from Monash University, and at present works at Ernst & Young; and a daughter, Inakshi, who graduated in B.Com (Hons) from Delhi University.

Harsh Vardhan also enjoys the support of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the parent organisation of the BJP. The RSS’ support ensured that he was nominated as chief ministerial candidate of BJP for Delhi, dashing the hopes of Vijay Goel. He will be pitted against Congress Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who has been in office for three consecutive terms.

Dr Vardhan has won many accolades for pioneering the Pulse Polio programme in India. His dedication proved fruitful. On January 13, 2012, India completed one full year without a case of polio being reported. The ENT surgeon also conceived the first-ever anti-tobacco legislation in India. In 1997, the Delhi Prohibition of Smoking and Non-Smokers Health Protection Act was passed.

Dr Harsh Vardhan was later conferred the Director-General’s Polio Eradication Champion Award Commendation Medal by the World Health Organisation in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, in May 1998. Former PM Vajpayee had once described Dr Harsh Vardhan as “Swasthya Vardhan”. The former BJP president organised the “Doctors’ Cell” within the party and set up vibrant units in different states.

Dr Harsh Vardhan was awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship by Rotary International twice. In 1994, he received the “IMA President’s Special Award of Appreciation” and was given the “IMA Special Award to Eminent Medical Men for Distinguished Achievement of Highest Order” for two successive years – 1995 and 1996. In 1995, the then president of Lions International, Mr C Pino Grimaldi, awarded him the Lions International Service Award. The International Institute of Polypathy based in Italy nominated him as a Fellow in 1996. On July 01, 2002, he was named “Doctor of the last Decade” (Swastha Ratna) by the New Delhi branch of the Indian Medical Association for being the “noblest medical campaigner of the last decade”.

He has served the South-East Asia office of World Health Organisation (WHO) as an Advisor. Also, he is the first Indian to have been nominated to the prestigious WHO body, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE).

Member of several prestigious organisations, Dr Vardhan has presented research papers at a number of various national and international scientific conferences. A widely-travelled medical practitioner, Vardhan has also contributed to the world’s leading medical journals.

Delhi polls are on December 04 and results will be out on December 08.