Dr Harsh Vardhan, the genial face of the BJP old guard in Delhi, is contesting from Chandni Chowk. He speaks to Governance Now about the party’s prospects in the elections.
Dr Harsh Vardhan, a union minister, is the genial face of the BJP old guard in Delhi. He is contesting again from the Chandni Chowk constituency, in the heart of the capital. He talked with Rahul Trivedi about the party’s prospects in the elections. Edited excerpts:
The election discourse has largely focused on nationalism and security, but developmental matters are not much talked about. Your comments?
According to me, nationalism means performing your duty with due diligence, honestly, sincerely, with meticulous precision and perfection, by putting your heart and soul into it. The BJP has been working on the same lines. So, there is nothing wrong in contesting the elections on this line. People are excited about bringing Narendra Modi back as prime minister and under his leadership BJP will win elections with a much bigger mandate. Under the leadership of Modi, we are committed to deliver a New India by 2022.
The BJP has not neglected issues like development, employment, education and health. Rather, our government has been totally focused on these issues. Various schemes of our government show the same. Development is visible across the country. Highways and expressways are being constructed at record speed which is not only improving the connectivity but also increasing job opportunities. The Ayushman Bharat scheme has been applauded across the globe. Under the Housing for All scheme, we are committed to provide home to everyone. So, we haven’t neglected any basic issues. Hence, for us nationalism is to do our work with full commitment, taking pride in it and maintaining the dignity of our country.
Talking about Delhi, what are the key issues for the party?
Our government has done a lot not only for Delhi but for the country. Though we are not the ruling party here, our government has sanctioned projects worth Rs 46,000 crore for Delhi and NCR. People living in Delhi are witnessing the change, with new projects like the War Memorial, Dr. Ambedkar International Centre and so on. So for us whether it is Delhi or any other part of the country it is the extraordinary development that is the priority. This is the reason why people would vote for us and you will see we will win all the seven seats in Delhi.
What would you say about the Aam Aadmi Party manifesto and AAP’s failed attempts for an alliance with the Congress?
I never read AAP manifestos because they are liars. You look at their manifesto of 2015: not even a single promise has been fulfilled. They have wasted their time in abusing the prime minister. They haven’t done anything for Delhi. I would suggest others should also not waste their time on AAP. I also think people will stop talking about AAP after May 23.
I think the AAP and the Congress could have made an alliance as they are natural allies – because both are synonymous with corruption.
How tough will be the fight in Delhi as Congress stalwart Sheila Dikshit is back in the scene?
The good news is that with Sheila Dikshit coming back in active politics it will at least enhance the fortunes of the Congress party in some way. Their graph might go up a bit because the last time they were not able to win a single seat. This is also good news because I think that BJP and Congress are sensible parties, they are not anarchists like AAP. But this won’t change the overall scenario in Delhi significantly.
AAP’s main plank is full statehood for Delhi. Your comments?
See, as far as our commitment towards full statehood to Delhi is concerned, I have always been vocal about it. It was the NDA government under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee that brought a bill for this in parliament; no other government did anything on this. But as long as there is a person like Arvind Kejriwal who prefers to call himself an anarchist, do you think any sensible government can discuss the issue of statehood with him? He will one day stand up and say that ‘I will not allow the prime minister to come out of the PM’s residence’, ‘I will not allow the president to come out of Rashtrapati Bhavan’ [till his demands are met]. How can someone talk to such an irresponsible person?