Former Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who has now been made the Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief ministerial candidate for Delhi, recently spoke to Sowmiya Ashok of The Hindu about his views on Sheila Dikshit’s performance, rise of the Aam Aadmi Party and prospects of the Congress among others things.
Did the infighting within the BJP and the divisions on the projection of CM candidate rankle you?
I would not like to personally comment on the state of affairs as perceived by others. Regarding the issue of CM candidate, as far as I believed, our party leadership is very experienced. We are sure that in 2013, we shall certainly get rid of the corrupt and inefficient regime of Ms. Sheila Dikshit and in 2014, we will certainly have a better person to head the country’s government.
What is your impression of the Aam Aadmi Party and their motto of “clean politics”?
There are 1,300 parties in the country and every party has a right to contest and tell what they want. I have full faith in the wisdom of the people of Delhi and their ability to judge the situation. If anybody can actually free Delhi from anti-people, un-friendly Congress government then it is only the BJP, which has a long history of over six to seven decades in the Capital.
Honesty is when the rest of the city says you are an honest person, you don’t have to boast yourself. I don’t want to comment on the style of any individual or any party, but calling everyone corrupt and inefficient except yourself is not a fair assessment of people in politics. There have been parties and good people in politics for so many decades. If everyone was corrupt then politics and the political system would have crumbled. The system is standing up because of good and honest people in politics.
Will Narendra Modi be a factor in the coming elections?
The Modi rally was definitely important since he is a phenomenon and he is an institution. He is someone who is hailed as a real transformer, deliverer, not just by the BJP but by people outside the BJP and the youth. He has brought good name to the country and even outside the world. His rally in a State where elections are impending certainly had a positive impact and certainly helped.
What is your opinion on the 15 years of Sheila Dikshit rule?
We gave the Congress many things on a platter when they came to power. Ms. Dikshit has been one of those lucky chief ministers who got 15 years. She talks of the Delhi Metro but for five years as a Minister we have been party to Cabinet meetings where the metro issue was planned and discussed. Also these flyovers are the by-product of the BJP government in Delhi conceived by the then Development Minister Sahib Singh Verma.
She has been unable to get us good water or sewers, provide 100 per cent teacher presence in schools even after 15 years, or doctors in hospitals. There have been a series of scams such as the Commonwealth Games, power privatisation, transport scam, ration cards, and the cleaning of the Yamuna is the biggest scam. What has Sheila Dikshit done to change things?
What are the changes the BJP will bring about?
I am talking about small changes that can take place. Is it a big issue to ensure well-lit streets, security guards at night, use of home guards and civil defence on buses? Can we not sensitise hospital staff and the police? We do not have a magic button, but at least there has to be some semblance of trying. People talk about corruption, talk about punishing person after he has committed a crime. Why can’t you make a pre-emptive effort? Why can’t you make it transparent and involve modern technology to stop people from adopting corrupt methods?
You can have a paperless government. They are many important allocations of works, tender processes. Why not conduct a video recording of all this officially? One has to have a vision and desire to actually be able to make these changes.
What would be the main poll issues for the BJP?
Every issue is a main issue. Water maybe a major issue for the person who does not have access to clean water; a person who lives near the Yamuna for him the cleanliness of the river is a major issue; for a parent with a school-going child, the lack of teachers may be a major issue. Similarly, when you get sick and you go to a hospital but don’t see doctors in the OPD because of a dearth of doctors. Apart from these, power and water bills are a universal issue for everyone…