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HindustanTimes Wed,23 Jul 2014

Delhi polls: Will Harshvardhan be the face of BJP?

HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 15, 2013
First Published: 22:43 IST(15/10/2013) | Last Updated: 09:26 IST(17/10/2013)

Harshvardhan, a practicing ENT specialist who earned the reputation of being an effective health administrator in the previous BJP rule, is back in the reckoning as the party's face for the Delhi assembly elections after hectic confabulations among party leaders on Tuesday.

Nitin Gadkari, former BJP president and in-charge of Delhi elections, discussed Harshvardhan's name with senior colleagues, including LK Advani.

A formula to project Harshavardhan could be in the offing soon, BJP officials said.

The latest move on Harshvardhan comes after earlier aborted attempts to name him as the head of the BJP campaign committee.

It could fructify once his name is cleared by the party's higest decision making body, the parliamentary board, as early as possible, party insiders said.

Vijay Goel as Delhi BJP chief has led the party's campaign efforts so far. But many BJP leaders have not minced words in saying he has failed to bring up the party to face the twin challenges by the ruling Congress as well as the debutant Aam Aadmi Party in the December elections this year.

While chief minister Sheila Dikshit is the chief campaigner and the face of the Congress party in Delhi, Aam Aadmi Party too has projected Arvind Kejriwal as its leader.

Many BJP leaders believe that, without a credible name leading the party in the elections, the BJP is losing the edge. Goel, in their view, does not fit the bill.

A BJP official said Goel could continue to be the state party chief but may not contest the assembly elections. “He will be party’s candidate in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. He has agreed to it," he added.

A four-time MLA, Harshvardhan enjoys the support of almost every leader in the party now, said another BJP strategist, who added that the party's parent body, the RSS, too backed his projection.

Apparently, in the weekly meeting of the BJP held on Tuesday, Goel thanked the party workers for supporting him during the last eight months. “Vijay Goel has probably finally surrendered to the pressure from the party’s central leadership, which has been pushing for Harshvardhan’s name for the top post,” a senior party leader said.

“There is still a view that it is now too late for the party to announce a chief ministerial candidate. The party is yet to decide whether he should be declared as party’s chief ministerial candidate or should be given the responsibility of the chief campaigner,” another party leader said, requesting anonymity.


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