The Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which earlier appeared to be a divided house on the issue of deciding the party’s Delhi chief ministerial candidate, put up a united front on Wednesday by unanimously selecting Dr Harshvardhan at its candidate.
Ending speculations, BJP president Rajnath Singh announced Harshavardhan’s candidature after meeting the Central Parliamentary Board. “After discussing all aspects, we unanimously decided to declare Harshvardhan as our chief ministerial candidate,” Singh said.
Expressing confidence to dislodge Sheila Dikshit’s government in the upcoming assembly polls, Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel denied reports of factionalism in the party. He was not upset over the party ignoring his chief ministerial ambition, he said. “I am delighted and not disappointed over the BJP Parliamentary Board’s decision. I have always maintained that whatever the board says will be final,” he said.
According to senior BJP leaders, the manner in which Goel had sidelined senior state unit leaders and put his own people in several party posts had made them unhappy. “Many senior leaders had complained to Rajnath Singh and election in-charge Nitin Gadkari about Goel,” said a senior BJP leader.
Harshvardhan’s name was proposed to Singh and Gadkari by these disgruntled leaders.
BJP veteran LK Advani hinted that Harshavardhan was selected keeping the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in mind. “The decision was taken not only in view of the assembly elections, but also considering its bearing on the next general elections. Since the formation of Jan Sangh in 1951, Delhi has played an important role in the growth of the party,” Advani said.
Denying any factionalism in the party, Advani said that Goel had happily accepted the decision taken by the Parliamentary Board.
After the announcement, Harshvardhan thanked party leaders for bestowing the responsibility and said that the priority now is to get rid of the Congress misrule. “I am humbled that through complete consensus, BJP leaders have given me this responsibility. I thank my senior party leaders and the Central Parliamentary Board members for nominating me,” he said, adding that “First, we will get independence for Delhi from the Congress, and then, we will rid the country of Congress rule.”
BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi could not attend the meeting as it was called at a short notice after Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley returned from the United States. Party sources said that Modi has given his nod for Harshvardhan’s candidature.