Delhi's Doctor On Call
By Pratul Sharma
Published: 13th Apr 2014 06:00:00 AM
Harsh Vardhan, BJP Leader
This is one doctor who carries on in good weather or bad. Affable and accessible, the ever-smiling Dr Harsh Vardhan, BJP state president and now its face in Delhi, is living proof that calmness can help negotiate rough seas and the turbulent tides of politics to steer his ship safely ashore. Looking for a Mr Clean to field as its CM candidate in the December 2013 Assembly polls, the BJP changed its captain and the unflappable ENT surgeon, who still runs his clinic in Krishna Nagar, steered his party to an impressive tally of 31 seats, bringing it within striking distance of forming the government in the state. Now, the doctor’s main opponent in the Lok Sabha bout is the ebullient lawyer Kapil Sibal in Chandni Chowk—where he once played gilli danda with his brother. “The party’s focus is now on the Lok Sabha,” Vardhan had said while walking along the familiar winding streets of the Walled City, whose residents would reciprocate his warmth with garlands and smiles. He may possibly be bound for Parliament, but his heart seems to be in Delhi secretariat where he is confident that as the chief minister, he could make the city shine.
“I’m a professional. If given a chance, I would adopt a scientific approach to solving Delhi’s problems. I would get professionals from all over the world to address all issues regarding transport, sanitation, traffic, health, vanishing green spaces and the city’s dwindling water table.”
A quintessential Dilliwala, the five-time MLA grew up in Old Delhi’s backyard. He knows the Turkman Gate and Fatak Teliyan like the back of his hand. He played cricket in Ramlila Maidan as a boy. He went to un-snobbish schools where the real Delhi studies—Lahore Montessori School in Mandi House; Vaishya Public School in Chawri Bazar; JK Happy School, Churiwalan; Happy School and Anglo Sanskrit School in Daryaganj (set up in 1869). The only time he spent out of the capital city in his 59 years was when he had gone to Kanpur to do his MBBS course.
Delhi’s heritage fascinates him. “I have been to 25 or 30 countries so far, but this city has a unique character, in which heritage coexists with modernity. I believe, with proper work, it can be one of the best cities in the world.”
The legend of the do-gooder doctor was born when as Delhi’s health minister in 1994, Vardhan initiated the pulse polio campaign. It was so successful that the model was replicated across the country, winning him worldwide recognition. Soon, his popularity as a doctor extended to politics; first elected in 1993, Vardhan got the mandate in all the elections he contested from Krishna Nagar, East Delhi. The father of three, the good doctor’s eldest son Mayank has followed in his footsteps with an MBBS and later an MBA from ISB, Hyderabad. The second son, Sachin, is in finance and daughter Inakshi recently completed her graduation from Delhi University. Recalling his one guilty passion, Dr Harsh Vardhan confessed that even when he was a minister, he used to play truant to watch the late night shows at Chanakya theatre. Decades after, in Delhi it’s still his show.
Favorite childhood memory
Going to the movies with parents and siblings on Sundays to Delite, Golcha and Shiela—all in Old Delhi
Deendayal Upadhyaya and Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Things he would do for the city if he became the CM
Involve professionals from all over the world to improve transport, traffic and sanitation
Current connect with the city
Now contesting from the Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha seat, home to the historic Red Fort. “After elections, I wish to see a BJP prime minister unfurling the national flag from Red Fort on Independence Day.”
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