DOCTOR’S DAY OUT
BJP may edge past in a tough triangular contest with Congress and Aam Aadmi Party
When Dr Harsh Vardhan Goel, 58, was a Class XI student in Daryaganj’s Anglo Sanskrit Victoria Jubilee Senior Secondary School, he dropped his surname. In retrospect, it may have been a wise decision. On October 23, he trumped another Goel, Delhi BJP President Vijay Goel, to emerge as the party’s candidate for Delhi chief minister. There was of course the unseen hand of RSS, of which he has been a member since he was a teenager, but BJP sees in him a squeaky clean middle-class icon, undefeated in elections. Just the man for a tough three-cornered electoral contest on December 4.
The India Today Group-ORG poll shows BJP is poised to win the elections with 36 of the 70 seats. The projected 23 per cent vote for Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party ( AAP),
impressive for a party that did not exist until a year ago, nets it only eight seats. The Congress, with a 30 per cent vote share—slightly behind BJP’s 33 per cent—gets 26 seats. The contest is likely to be severe and unpredictable in at least 20 Assembly constituencies in Delhi where victory margins were as narrow as 200 votes in the 2008 elections.
Social commentator Santosh Desai calls Delhi’s elections a clash of very different ideas: BJP and Congress represent the old order, AAP, with its new ideas of funding, and candidate selection, promises a completely different brand of politics. If Dr Harsh Vardhan does indeed manage to carry the day for the faction-ridden Delhi BJP, the story of this victory could well be scripted from his modest two-storey home tucked away in a densely congested bylane in east Delhi’s Krishna Nagar. ‘Doctor saab’s’ cell phone, which he often personally answers, rings without a break. The chief ministerial candidate swallows a frugal breakfast of poha and pomegranate before tak- ing off in his silver Swift DZire that bears the number plate ‘0007’. His homemaker wife, Nutan, campaigns for him in Krishna Nagar while he heads towards the BJP office on 11, Ashoka Road. The doctor’s list of must-haves for probables: “A clean image, experience and winnability.” As he crosses the filthy Yamuna, he reflects on his challenges. Dikshit’s bull run, he says, will be remembered for skyrocketing prices, corruption, a dying Yamuna despite a Rs 8,000-crore spend and a city that is increasingly unsafe for women.
Transparency is the cornerstone of the doctor’s blueprint to rebuild Delhi. All government decisions will be put up online, he promises. “It will immediately reduce corruption,” he says. He promises freedom for bureaucrats, a thrust on renewable energy and medical insurance for all. The thrust, however, comes from his approachable, down-to-earth style. ‘ Shasak nahin sevak (Worker, not ruler)’ read BJP posters of Dr Harsh Vardhan that appeared across Delhi days after his
“Saying everyone is corrupt only creates a feeling that nothing can be done.
We have to get out of it.’’
DR HARSH VARDHAN