New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday put an end to speculation over its chief ministerial candidate and named Dr Harsh Vardhan as party's face for the December 4 Delhi Assembly elections. After naming Harsh Vardhan, selected after days of hectic parleys as Delhi BJP chief Vijay Goel too wanted to be projected as the chief ministerial candidate, the party tried to send out a signal that everything was fine in the party.
Dr Harsh Vardhan claimed that the party nominated him for the post as he enjoys the support of senior party leaders. Speaking to CNN-IBN Harsh Vardhan claimed that there was no friction in the party unit. "There is no question of dumping anyone," said Harsh Vardhan.
Harsh Vardhan also hit out at Aam Aadmi Party's CM candidate Arvind Kejriwal. "I don't work the Arvind Kejriwal works. Kejriwal has the habit of abusing everyone," he said.
The decision to name Harsh Vardhan as the chief ministerial candidate sidelining Vijay Goel was taken at a Parliamentary Board meeting attended by all the board members except Gujarat Chief Minister and party prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. The party reportedly decided on Harsh Vardhan's name last week and had conveyed it to him as well as Vijay Goel, who had been lobbying to be named as CM candidate.
The BJP made all efforts to dispel any chances of a rift within the party by highlighting Vijay Goel as the man who would lead BJP's campaign for the Assembly polls. Another party strongman VK Malhotra has also been included in the campaign committee.
Goel also toed the same line saying that he welcomed the party's decision. "I have always followed the rules of the party. I have always followed the decision of the party,"said Goel.
On BJP's decision to name Harsh Vardhan as the chief ministerial face, Goel said: "Party must have thought on why the person selected for CM post is better. I have always followed the decision of the party."
The Delhi BJP chief also reiterated that he never complained to senior party leaders on party's decision to name Harsh Vardhan. "I never claimed to be a CM candidate. I respect the decision and will abide by the decision of the Parliamentary board. If I had problem with the decision then I would have been unhappy," said Goel.
"I have always followed the decision of the party. There is nothing to be upset about as the party has given everything to me," he added.
He said that he will continue to work for the partyand help party come to power in Delhi.
Harsh Vardhan's name as BJP's CM face was clear right from the start. The party Delhi chief had toask for chair at the press conference called by party President Rajnath Singh to announce Harsha Vardhan's name. While announcing the party's decision Rajnath said, "Harsh Vardhan's performance as former Delhi health minister is well known." Senior party leader LK Advani also welcomed the party decision. he said, "BJP's decision has been accepted by Vijay Goel. I am confident that with Harsh Vardhan as our chief ministerial candidate we will get brilliant results for our party."
As soon as the announcement was made, there were celebrations at Harsh Vardhan's residence. "We will soon free the people of Delhi from the poor governance of the Congress and then the country from the Congress misrule. I thank our senior party leaders and central parliamentary committee members for nominating me," Harsh Vardhan said. After Harsh Vardhan's candidature was announced, Vijay Goel dismissed reports that he was dissatisfied and issued a clarification. He asked party members to back Harsh Vardhan's candidature and campaign for him. Vijay Goel said he was not upset by the decision and would abide by it.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit refused to comment on Harsh Vardhan's candidature. She said, "I have no reaction at all. They are perfectly within their right to choose whoever they want. When they make this annoucement, the timing is their prerogative." Congress leader Jagdish Tytler took a dig at Harsh Vardhan saying he was no competition to Sheila Diskhit. He said, "Harsh Vardhan has no contribution as an Opposition as he has never opened his mouth in the Assembly in 15 years. The BJP was very confident when they made Vijay Goel the state BJP chief, see what happened."
Aam Aadmi Party's Delhi chief ministerial candidate Arvind Kejriwal hit out at the BJP saying the party has changed its chief ministerial candidate to hide its corrupt face. "This time Delhi elections is on the issue of honesty. Vijay Goel had the image of corrupt leader so BJP had to change their chief ministerial candidate a month before the elections. Like Congress hides behind Manmohan Singh, so is BJP hiding behind Harsh Vardhan. There is too much infighting with BJP that will affect its performance," he said. On Harsh Vardhan's elevation, AAP leader Manish Sisodia says, "The BJP has told that they do not have a strong voice aganist Sheila Dikshit's corruption. Harsh Vardhan has never spoken against corruption by Congress in Delhi. Infact he had once appreciated Sheila Dikshit as the chief minister. How will he fight against corruption?" He adds, "Like Manmohan Singh has kept quite against corruption in Congress, Harsh Vardhan has kept quite against corruption by BJP. BJP and Congress are two sides of the same coin. Now only AAP has the strength to contest against Congress and defeat the Congress government in Delhi.