BJP’s CM candidate for Delhi Dr Harshvardhan speaks about development under the Vajpayee government and the Congress government in Delhi with The New Indian Express Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla during Teekhi Baat on IBN7. Excerpts:
PC: What medical area do you specialise in?
HV: Ear, nose and throat.
PC: But Delhi has a problem of heart…
HV: I pray to god that you don’t get it…
PC: I have a problem, can’t hear properly. Speaking about you, a doctor has been chosen to solve Delhi’s problems.
HV: As far as Delhi is concerned, I think it is ill. At this moment, it is in the Intensive Care Unit. I feel it needs a healing touch.
PC: Since you are an ENT specialist, you will have to open up ears of the people of Delhi first. People here don’t believe in BJP. They have made you lose for 15 years.
HV: How can you say that people are making us lose for 15 years? In these 15 years, we have won 7 Lok Sabha seats. In 1999, we won all seven Lok Sabha seats of Delhi.
PC: And 2004, after which you were left with only one seat?
HV: In 2007 and 2011 we won municipal elections in Delhi. Hence, you cannot say we have been losing for 15 years.
PC: Dr. Saab, you have been here for a long time. Your Sangh-age is more than others. You have been winning corporation elections since 1998, but not Lok Sabha elections. It means your party is a corporation level party in Delhi.
HV: It is not so. If we have not been successful in assembly elections, we feel that the Congress and its leader may have had better fortune than us.
PC: But your vote percentage has decreased over a decade due to issues of credibility.
HV: What are you saying Prabhuji? BJP has good credibility not only in Delhi, but in the whole country and the whole world. Though Atalji did not win the second time in 2004, if you go abroad even today, people ask about Atalji first. They praise the work done by Atalji’s government.
PC: Why don’t they vote for Atalji’s party? Even now Atalji is way ahead in popularity. It is true according to opinion polls.
HV: A year ago, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, her whole cabinet had put all their might, but Congress was not able to win even one of the three municipal corporations in Delhi.
PC: Dr Saab, you have come back to municipal level again. We are talking of national level party.
HV: It is the same public which votes.
PC: Last time you won the municipal elections, but lost the assembly polls.
HV: See in December, 2013, we will form government in Delhi and in 2014 under Narendra Modi’s leadership. He will become India’s Prime Minister, and will make India’s name all over the world.
PC: Just one month before the elections. BJP has found the ENT specialist. But you have been around for a long time. Why did they remember you now?
HV: From the time I am in politics, I have been given important responsibilities. In Delhi, I have been city president three times, national vice president, and today I am central election committee member that chooses candidates across the country. Hence, the party has given me all kinds of responsibilities. I have served as Haryana in-charge.
PC: Why didn’t they announce the CM candidate earlier?
HV: The question is not why it is done now or why it was was not done before, or should it have been done or not. Our senior party leaders have a lot of experience—of 50-60 years. They have made people contest so many elections. And you are asking why it was not done earlier… Yesterday, it was announced. Today, ask any child in Delhi who the BJP chief ministerial candidate in Delhi is. He will tell you.
PC: Everybody was waiting. Vijay Goelji said he wanted to be the CM candidate. Now, there are people opposing you in the party. They say that a man under whose leadership we have lost elections has been made the CM candidate. But they don’t talk about image. You have a good image.
HV: In politics, everybody has the right to make every type of comment. And there is no necessity for a counter comment to every person who comments on you. I do not need to say anything about myself. In our party, we work for ideology and policy, not for individual person. But if you want to listen what I have done, I will tell you that during the last 20 years, I have won awards, which many would not have won in India in past 50 years.
PC: People say these days that RSS decides everything and you have been RSS swayamsevak. They have trust in you. You have been named because of RSS. Otherwise it could have happened earlier. You are RSS’s candidate not BJP’s.
HV: Please understand, RSS for us is a centre of ideals and inspiration. We get inspired and derive energy to good work from RSS. BJP and I get the culture of good work from RSS. We feel proud about it. Even in 2008 and before that, I was a Sangh swayamsevak. Sangh never interferes in BJP’s affairs. I am witnessing politics for 20 years actively.
PC: Are you not RSS nominee.
HV: There is no question. In our parliamentary board, Advaniji decided, Rajnathji decided, Nitinji decided, Dr Joshiji decided, Venkaiahji decided, Sushmaji, Ananth Kumarji, Ramlalji, all of them decided together.
PC: But all these are RSS people
HV: Everybody is from RSS, and I think those who are not, should be. If those who are outside (RSS) come and see it, they would wonder why they didn’t join it all these years.
PC: It seemed that Vijay Goel would be the candidate. What did people see one month before the elections that they felt you could give better results than him?
HV: Vijay Goel is a very good and a hard working leader. He works with innovation. And I like him from within my heart and he too does the same. For any post, in your channel, if anyone has to be made the chief, it is only one person, it cannot be two. No A would become, if B had become. You would have said that you have been president for five years, then why weren’t you appointed.
PC: In Sangh-age you are the senior…
HV: There is no issue of seniority. The experienced leaders of the party decide. Till now, we have not thought about an individual. We give work the importance.
PC: Why does Harshvardhan have to take BJP to victory? Now it is personality contest. On one side is Sheila Dikshit, Arvind Kejriwal and Dr. Harshvardhan.
HV: It is not a question of about Harshvardhan. Our party karyakartas work for the party. Through the party, for the country and the society, we are inspired by Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and Dr Shayama Prasad Mukherjee. Atalji and Advaniji have followed this path.
PC: Are you confident the party will win?
HV: I have 100 per cent confidence in our party workers, on people’s trust, love, and our leaders’ guidance and on God’s wishes.
PC: Not on oneself…
HV: What is an individual? My party and its workers are with me, people of Delhi, guidance of leaders....
PC: Last time, people voted you to power and trusted you. But you changed three chief ministers in five years. Then you brought Sushma to the forefront and lost elections. Will you get a magic box at the last moment?
HV: It is our party, when a false allegations was levelled against Lal Krishna Advaniji and Madan Lal Khurana, we adopted the highest ideals of probity in public life.
PC: Yes, they resigned.
HV: Both showed what it is to practice high ideals and now you ask why one replaced the other...
PC: What was the charge on Vermaji?
HV: There are many things in a party.
PC: But by taking a late decision, like during Sushma’s time, there are many drawbacks.
HV: It is a party of strategy, but in politics, you may have the best possible strategy, even then it is not necessary that you would win the elections. I want to tell you today. Since the time nation got Independence, the work that our beloved Atal Bihari Vajpayee did during the six year NDA rule, I can take a challenge and debate. That much good work has not happened under the tenure of any prime minister. Unfortunately, we lost elections in 2004.
PC: But you lost the elections in 2009 as well.
HV: It is unfortunate for the nation. But this does not mean that there was any shortcoming in the work, or strategy.
PC: Why did you lose in 2009?
HV: I have said that there are many factors in an election. Only one person wins. This is not a fight.
PC: But you lost the fight that happened before Advaniji and Manmohan Singh…
HV: An experienced leader like Shri Lal Krishna Advaniji, who has an unblemished character, he has such a long political career, if this country did not make him Prime Minister, then it is not unfortunate for him, it is unfortunate for the nation.
PC: But you are talking about people.
HV: I am giving you a broader perspective. If people would have taken benefit of his 50 year experience in 2009, it would have been great for the nation.
PC: I agree with you. Be it Advaniji, Atalji or Dr Harshvardhan, image is good, clean and honest. There has been no statesman like Atalji since Independence. There would have been before, but not after. Advaniji has a clean image, and you too have a clean image. Your performance as the health minister was very good. But even then the party lost.
HV: You are repeating the same thing…
PC: I am repeating, because you didn’t give convincing answer. Why don’t people believe in you at the time of polls?
HV: Tell me, all you people, for so many years, did such a big wrong information campaign for so many years against Gujarat chief minister, so many things were said in newspapers and media, but he won consecutively and is winning. Even in Madhya Pradesh we are winning. In Delhi if you see the past 15-20 years, BJP has won, Congress also has won.
PC: Don’t you feel there are internal fights? Or leaders like Madanlal Khurana, Vijay Kumarji, Sahaniji, Advaniji were chairmen of metropolitan council. Everybody became national leaders, nobody became local leader.
HV: We have good party workers in every lane. Look at our Mandal presidents, even good workers at polling booths. There is no fight or quarrel but media cooks up things…
PC: There is new disease in the political class. They start blaming the media for everything.
HV: I am not blaming the media, I respect the media very much, and you’re a very senior journalist, I know you from many years. I am such a person that if anybody writes anything against me, I call and thank him. I get to learn after that. But I feel the way things are played in the media many times shows a lot of exaggeration. There may be differences in thoughts among us. But there is no difference in the minds.
PC: Sheilaji says her work is seen, development is seen, that is their slogan. Arvind Kejriwal says that he is fighting against corruption, there is proof and image. What slogan does Dr Harshvardhan have?
HV: I don’t know what development does Sheilaji talks about.
HV: Roads in which thousands of crores have been spent, and there are potholes on roads after a spell of rain. Don’t you remember the picture before the Common Wealth Games? A road was made near the Yamuna and it had potholes on the third day. What development you are talking about? Go to the slums. People don’t get a square meal to eat. There are no toilets in Delhi. Read their Delhi human development report— 84 per cent people do not get adequate water. The water they get is dirty. In schools, there is shortage of 15,000 teachers even today. There are no essential medicines in hospitals.
PC: You mean there is no development…
HV: Will there be any accountability? In GB Panth hospital, 50 per cent fatalities are being recorded since the last 10 years. Who will take responsibility? Can you tell me?
PC: Flyovers were made, metro was developed, green cover increased.
HV: The decision of metro was taken by us in the Madan Lal Khurana cabinet. The development model was prepared till the last phase. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji had kept the foundation stone during our govenrment’s tenure. When he became the PM, Atalji inaugurated the Shahdara to Kashmiri gate route. Today, in the city, children have no schools, there are no teachers. A child gets 90 per cent, but cannot take admission to a college.
PC: What will you do, what is your slogan?
HV: We say that this government has treated Delhi very casually. We want to govern Delhi professionally with modern ideas, with assistance of best possible experts, with 500 per cent transparency. We will not make a government that does corruption and scams, but find solutions so that people can’t do corruption.
PC: Dr saab, you may feel bad, but your party has not done any big protest against corruption in Delhi, in the past five years. Like Arvind Kejriwal does daily.
HV: The gentleman you are naming, we don’t have a nature of abusing everybody like he does.
PC: He speaks from the heart.
HV: If any person gets obsessed with the idea that except for him, the whole world is dishonest and thief, I do not subscribe to that kind of mechanism.
PC: He says you should debate with them.
HV: Nobody has a problem in debating with anybody. But there should be some debating standards for debate, it does not mean that you do tu-tu-main-main and start abusing.
PC: Are you ready to debate with Sheilaji?
HV: I am ready to debate with everybody. But its agenda, its mechanism, all should be decided in a transparent manner. There should be no tu-tu main-main, or nuisance. Today, you see what is happening in politics, we do not accept it.
PC: I asked whether you are ready for debate with Sheilaji and Arvind Kejriwal
HV: When did I refuse? I am telling in your program, decide norms, and maintain its sanctity. I have said get any person to debate with me on the work done by Atalji’s government in six years.
PC: When you go to demand vote, you have projected Modi’s name for Prime Minister’s post. Sheila Dikshit is for 15 years and hence has a charisma and halo around her. Like your old leaders also had a halo around them. Harshvardhan does not have that much halo but has an image. Hence, will you use Modi’s name?
HV: It is not a issue of use. Modiji’s name is such a name today. A child who is not eligible to vote also gets excited by Narendra Modiji’s name. That’s because he has made a name due to his work, integrity, governance and vision.
PC: I have asked whether you will demand votes on Modi’s name or your work…
HV: On the name of BJP, all its governments, and its work in Delhi and across the country, states, our ideology, vision.
PC: Not on Modiji’s name, you said that you will win 2014 elections.
HV: We will win this election and Modiji will become Prime Minister. You media have doubt, but the people of country don’t have any doubt. See, has any person addressed rallies of 5,7,10 lakh people in the past 50 years?
PC: I have seen Jaiprakash Narayan’s rally…
HV: Narendra Modiji’s rallies today are much bigger than Jaiprakash Narayan’s rallies…
PC: Before that we had seen Atalji’s rally, we walked 3-4 kms to see it.
HV: There is no comparison with Atalji, but today Narendra Modiji’s rallies have beaten all records.
PC: Who is your political fight against?
HV: It is against Sheilaji. Enough is enough, if you cannot deliver in 15 years, we want to gracefully show you the way out. People are forced to buy onion at Rs. 100 per kilo.
PC: But they are expensive even in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat…
HV: In the old days, when onions was sold at Rs. 30 per kilo for three weeks, Congress people were wearing onion garlands, now why don’t Sheilaji and others wear garlands.
PC: You feel Arvind Kejriwal is not relevant in the election?
HV: I do not want to rubbish anybody. My brain and focus now are preoccupied with thinking the best for the people of Delhi. There are 1300 parties in the country, and one more is added. Many parties are formed before elections and wither away. See election commission record, there are 1300 parties.
PC: But none of those leaders have popularity of 18 to 20 per cent.
HV: I am not questioning the sanctity of any opinion poll. I fully trust the people of Delhi.
PC: How many times will Modi come to the field here to make your image?
HV: Modiji is campaigning all over the country today. He is our future prime minister of India. When elections happened in the next 3-4-5 months, he will become prime minister. He is campaigning in the whole country.
Why wouldn’t he campaign in Delhi if elections are due here?
He will devote as much time as possible. We will request him to come, also other leaders in Delhi, we will do 100 meetings. Arun Jaitleyji has asked us to do as many meetings as we want to do. Advaniji said that they would come to as many places where they do the meetings. All leaders are our national president. But you have no other question than this. Narendra Modiji is an institution today. He is a phenomenon that has never been seen in India before.
PC: Will it benefit the Delhi election?
HV: His image is not because you people wrote some certificates. It is because of his work.
PC: But Congressmen are raising questions over his claims now.
HV: Even United Nations is praising the work he has done, he is getting awards. His name and Atalji’s name is taken respectfully by people.
PC: If you win, who will you give the credit? Modiji? BJP? Harshvardhan?
HV: See, the work of our party workers, who work selflessly, have limitless potential, are honest, take inspiration from Pandit Deendayal Upadhyayay and Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee.
PC: And who will be blamed if you lose?
HV: This is not an important issue for us, this is an imaginary question. There is no necessity of answering this question. Winning and losing happen in politics. There is no meter for that. These are your questions.