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Home / Politics / Policy /  BJP picks Harsh Vardhan as its CM candidate for Delhi

New Delhi: The parliamentary board of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) named Harsh Vardhan as the chief ministerial candidate of the party for the assembly elections in Delhi on 4 December, nixing a factional feud that was threatening to undermine its electoral prospects.

BJP leaders and members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were backing Vardhan as he fit the profile, being non-controversial and hence better equipped to take on the incumbent—three-time Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit.

The choice was also influenced by the fact that the electoral fight this year is a three-way contest after the entry of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the fray.

“We have decided to make Harsh Vardhan our chief ministerial candidate. This is a unanimous decision of the central leadership and also by the Delhi unit of the BJP," BJP president Rajnath Singh said after the board’s meeting. “We are confident of winning the Delhi assembly election under the leadership of Harsh Vardhan."

Although the central leadership of the BJP had initially opted not to name a chief ministerial candidate for Delhi election and instead appoint Vardhan as the chief of its election campaign committee, the party did a flip-flop after the factional feud threatened to spill over. Last week, supporters of Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel organized a protest outside the residence of Nitin Gadkari, a former BJP president now in charge of Delhi, to pressure the central leadership to nominate Goel as the chief ministerial candidate.

“Delhi is very important for the BJP because it is our national capital and centre of all politics. We had won our first Lok Sabha seat from Delhi. I am confident that the BJP will win the Delhi assembly election this time and would also form governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The party is also confident of winning the upcoming Lok Sabha election in 2014," said BJP leader L.K. Advani.

“Some of the members feared the announcement of the chief ministerial candidate could lead to further in-fighting and a rebellion within the Delhi BJP. But such an action is unlikely. Vijay Goel is an old worker of the party and he understands the importance of the decision. The party is united and there will be no internal sabotage. The central leadership of the BJP has asked Ram Lal, general secretary (organization) and a senior RSS functionary in the BJP to pacify Vijay Goel," said a BJP leader who declined to be named.

Political analysts believe that since Vardhan is less well-known among the people of Delhi compared with Goel and V.K. Malhotra, it is possible that he will be the dark horse who benefits in the assembly election.

“Harsh Vardhan has always been a low-key worker of the BJP, so he is the dark horse. Whereas Vijay Goel and V.K. Malhotra are known in Delhi and it is easier to target them," said Bidyut Chakrabarty, a political science professor in the University of Delhi. “The anointment of Harsh Vardhan as the chief ministerial candidate of the party is a strategic decision which can give dividends to the BJP."

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