DOC­TOR’S DAY OUT

BJP may edge past in a tough tri­an­gu­lar con­test with Congress and Aam Aadmi Party

India Today - - OPINION POLL - By San­deep Un­nithan

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

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