Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday named former health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan as its chief ministerial candidate for the December 4 Delhi state Assembly polls.
The final decision was taken by parliamentary board of the BJP, which was attended by senior leader LK Advani, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, BJP Delhi in-charge Nitin Gadkari and Ananth Kumar.
Harsh Vardhan, 59, was elected from Krishna Nagar constituency in east Delhi for the first time in 1993 and went on to retain that seat in the 1998, 2003 and 2008 assembly elections.
An ENT surgeon by profession, he is married to Nutan, a specialist in hospital administration. He has two sons and a daughter.
Announcing the decision, BJP president Rajnath Singh said: "The central parliamentary board has unanimously decided to project Dr Harsh Vardhan as the BJP`s chief ministerial candidate for Delhi elections.
Rajnath said the decision was taken keeping in mind the track record of DR Harsh Vardhan who was praised nationwide when he was Delhi`s health minister as well his contribution to the party while he was the Delhi BJP president.
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.
Speaking after Rajnath, senior party leader LK Advani congratulated Harsh Vardhan and said that Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel has accepted party’s decision.
Overwhelmed with the party’s decision, Dr Harsh Vardhan thanked all senior party leaders and central parliamentary committee members.
Addressing the reporters, the newly chosen CM candidate, said: "First, we will get independence for Delhi from the Congress, and then, we will rid the country of Congress rule."
The decision to name Harsh Vardhan by the party has come despite stiff opposition to Vardhan`s candidature by Goel.
The internal squabbles in Delhi BJP over the issue had threatened to take its toll on the party`s campaign.
A number of Delhi BJP leaders last week had conveyed to the party`s central leadership that they should announce the candidature of Vardhan, arguing that he has wider acceptability among people, party leaders and workers.
Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel, who was said to be annoyed over the issue, said that he was very happy that the BJP Parliamentary Board has decided on Dr Harshvardhan.
Speaking to the media, Goel, who had few days back publicly announced himself as the CM candidate, said that he is not ‘sad’ with the BJP Parliamentary Board’s decision. “I said this from the start that whatever the Board decides it will be final decision,” Goel said.
Goel said he was delighted and not disappointed over the BJP Parliamentary Board`s decision.
Meanwhile, reacting to BJP’s decision, Congress Delhi in-charge Shakeel Ahmad said that the opposition party is no competition for the ruling party.
"They are no competition for us. We are not worried at all," Ahmad said when asked to respond to the naming of Harsh Vardhan as the BJP`s chief ministerial candidate.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Manish Sisodia said that he found no difference between the BJP`s chief ministerial candidate for the Delhi elections, Dr Harsh Vardhan, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, both of whom were known to be soft on tackling corruption.
"The way Manmohan Singh was named as PM by the Congress, the BJP has named Harsh Vardhan. The way Manmohan Singhji keeps quiet at the corruption of Congress, Harsh Vardhanji does not raise a voice against (the) BJP`s corruption," he said.
Delhi Assembly elections will be held in the national capital on December 4 with over 11.5 million voters eligible to cast their ballots in 70 constituencies.
Last month, three surveys conducted by a private agency, Sisro Associates, with technical assistance from Yogendra Yadav has projected that AAP will garner 32 percent vote share. The Congress and the BJP will end up with 24 and 23 percent votes respectively. And if this happens, then the growing unrest within BJP`s Delhi wing will scuttle its chances to seize power from Congress.