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Why BJP picked Harsh Vardhan for Delhi CM's race: word from Modi

india Updated: Oct 24, 2013 02:48 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Harsh Vardhan

BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's "growing worry" about the party's prospects in Delhi played a catalytic role in the naming of Harsh Vardhan as chief ministerial candidate.

Even though his rally at the Japanese Garden in Rohini on September 29 was billed as a big success, Modi was "disturbed" by reports that the BJP was losing ground to fledgling Aam Admi Party (AAP) led by Arvind Kejriwal.

BJP insiders said Modi got key aides and party officials to give him an assessment, which warned of serious setbacks in many areas unless the trend was reversed by projecting a "credible" face. The Gujarat chief minister agreed with the assessment by Nitin Gadkari, BJP's leader's in charge for Delhi, that Vardhan was the best bet in the circumstances.

Though he viewed Goel's organisational ability an "asset", Modi is understood to have concurred with views of LK Advani, Arun Jaitely and Sushma Swaraj, all of whom have favoured Vardhan for a long time.

BJP president Rajnath Singh, who had appointed Goel as the Delhi party chief in February, was initially reluctant about "changing horses mid-stream" but went along with the views of other leaders when shown survey reports.

BJP general secretary (Organisation) Ramlal, who supported Goel, also came on board when the RSS brass pressed for Vardhan's name.

Goel probably blundered when he refused to take other Delhi BJP leaders along with him when he set about revitalising the local units.

The fear of Goel's ability to swing selection of BJP candidates in his favour saw many leaders rush to Gadkari with complaints to ensure "justice" for all factions.

A "turning point" in the episode was when Arun Jaitely agreed with Gadkari and Sushma Swaraj’s assessment that Vardhan had to be brought to the fore to re-energise the campaign. Jaitley agreed that Goel's name was not catching the imagination of Delhi's voting class though he had worked hard.