The BJP candidate from Chandni Chowk will begin campaigning this weekend

The Phatak Teliyan near Kali Masjid in Turkman Gate will on Saturday be the point from which the Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate from Chandni Chowk, Harsh Vardhan, will begin campaigning for the first time for a Lok Sabha seat.

This particular phatak, as entries to residential areas in the Walled City are commonly referred to, holds significance to Dr. Vardhan who spent the first 15 years of his life here. “I heard a Muslim family now lives in the small house where my family used to live on rent,” he said, seated in the cool confines of his office at the Delhi BJP’s headquarters on Pandit Pant Marg. “I grew up playing on the laps of Muslims,” he continued.

Ever since the Delhi BJP chief was named candidate from the Chandni Chowk constituency, which has a mixed bag of voters, Dr. Vardhan has repeatedly referred to his roots in the area. “I am not sure exactly when we moved to the trans-Yamuna area. It was in the late 1960s and if I remember, there was a trend to shift from the Walled City to across the Yamuna for want of space,” he recollected.

Dr. Vardhan said he spent the weekend visiting seven of the 10 Assembly constituencies where he noticed an “overwhelming response” and “enthusiasm”. Yet, he admitted, the announcement by the party naming him as a candidate came as a surprise. “I was surprised that my party wanted me to contest in the parliamentary elections and that too from Chandni Chowk, but I will now have the satisfaction of defeating both Ashutosh and Kapil Sibal,” he quipped.

In the 2013 Delhi Assembly elections, the Aam Aadmi Party clinched four of the 10 constituencies, the BJP bagged three, the Congress two and JD (U) won the Matia Mahal seat. Even though he underplayed the AAP effect, Dr. Vardhan said he has realised that mass public rallies are not necessary as more personalised efforts pay off more. “I will be taking up local issues such as simplification of VAT for traders, redevelopment of the area and sort out the parking issues,” he said.

Yet, the five-time MLA from East Delhi’s Krishna Nagar, where his family has lived since 1969, admitted to needing time to study the constituency a little better. “As a doctor, I will have to study the area very well and then offer my prognosis.”

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