Delhi BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan, the man of the moment, plunged into electoral politics over two decades ago with a win from the Krishna Nagar Assembly constituency on the saffron party’s ticket in 1993 and became a member of the first Legislative Assembly.

He was then appointed the Minister of Health and Minster of Law in the Government of Delhi. He later became the Minister of Education in 1996. It was during his stint as the Health Minister that he launched the Polio Eradication Plan in October 1994. The programme was successful and later adopted throughout the country by the Government of India.

A Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh member since childhood, Dr. Vardhan was re-elected in 1998 and 2003. He again won from the same seat in 2008, defeating Congress’ Deepika Khullar by over 3,000 votes.

Hands-on style

Fondly called “Doctor Saab”, Dr. Vardhan is known for his easy going attitude and a disarming smile which, according to the people close to him, are his greatest assets that helped him win even his detractors. Even during his tenure as Minister in the Delhi government, people used to find him remarkably accessible and the officials respected him for his hands-on style of functioning.

It was the anointment of Dr. Vardhan, who has the reputation of being honest, as the party’s chief ministerial candidate that gave the party a certain edge over the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party in an election where corruption turned out to be a major issue. Faced with bitter internal squabble, Dr. Vardhan managed to unite various factions and bring enthusiasm among workers keeping the party on course to regain power from the Congress after 15 years.

The anointment of Dr. Vardhan, however, evoked scathing criticism from AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal who described him as “Manmohan Singh of the BJP”. Dr. Vardhan, however, refrained from making any personal remarks on his opponents. Carrying out a positive campaign stressing on the BJP’s vision for Delhi, he attacked the ruling Congress on price rise, corruption, rising power tariff, scarcity of water and unemployment, besides promising to reduce by 30 per cent the power tariff.

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