Curbing corruption is on top of my agenda—Dr Harsh Vardhan
A Sangh swayamsevak since ninth standard, Dr Harsh Vardhan became instrumental in eradicating polio from India in 1993 and also devised a model drug policy, which was followed not only all over India but also in many foreign countries like the UK and Latin American countries. After being declared as Chief Minister candidate of BJP in Delhi now he wants to eradicate corruption and many other ills concerning Delhi. In an exclusive interview to Organiser senior corresponded Pramod Kumar he explained his vision for Delhi. Excerpts:
What is your agenda for Delhiites in these elections?
My immediate agenda is to give Delhi back to Delhiites and ensure that the corrupt and inept regime of Congress is removed. We have to replace it with a Government which is transparent, honest, sincere, people friendly, committed to the people and protects their interests selflessly. Once we are able to do it, we will follow it with the replacement of the most corrupt Government of the world headed by Dr Manmohan Singh with the Government headed by Shri Narendra Modi at the Centre.
Are you confident of getting absolute majority?
What are you talking about? We are going to have hands down victory with two-third majority.
What can you assure Delhiites at this moment?
My first promise is that we will provide them a very sincere, honest and transparent Government with a commendable curb on corruption. We will do everything to tackle corruption whether it requires Jan Lokpal, or anything else. My focus is not just on preventing corruption, we will make the system thoroughly transparent by introducing e-governance.
You want to follow Gujarat model?
We will follow whatever good things have been done in Gujarat or elsewhere in the country. Women security is also on top of our agenda. We will strengthen the civil defence system for it. We will make healthy beginning and will take it to a logical conclusion, as we did to eliminate polio.
You have successfully eradicated polio, what similar challenge will you take up this time?
Curbing corruption will be on top of my agenda. All the preventable diseases will be curbed. Being a doctor I know 90 per cent of the health is prevention. We can give the best possible universal health insurance scheme to Delhi. Solar power is also my passion area. Every house will be made a powerhouse. We will make people self-sufficient in power generation and consumption. They can also be able to sell electricity to the power grid. They can also get carbon credit. Drug policy will be reintroduced.
The drug prices are skyrocketing?
It is because of the wrong polices. Our essential drug policy programme had proved to be the best of the world. The crux of the policy was that with the same amount of budget we can have at least 35 per cent more drugs, far superior quality drugs and can also get those drugs available to the people which cure their 95 per cent routine illnesses. First to copy that scheme was the then Congress government of Punjab. WHO also propagated it all over the world as Delhi model. WHO says 45 per cent diseases can be eradicated only if people do yoga, meditation and morning walk. We will promote that also.
For some time the BJP has been claiming to reduce power tariff to 30 per cent. How will you do it?
We will do three-four things on this account. First the accounts of all the power companies will be audited by the CAG right from the year 2000. Any wrongdoings in the accounts will be checked. We will also involve more power companies in distribution so that the power tariff comes down as the mobile phone tariff has reduced. To promote solar energy we will encourage people to use their rooftops. First we will ensure it in government offices, then the housing societies and then the general public will be engaged. Instead of selling liquor, the DSIDC will be motivated to set up factories for producing solar panel. It can provide jobs to over two lakh people.
Despite right to education, right to food and anti-begging law in Delhi, thousands of child beggars are there in Delhi. Comment.
We have a detailed plan to take care of all such issues. There are some organised gangs, which are operating it. We have to tackle it at many fronts. We will make Delhi a beggars-free State.
CM Sheila Dikshit has again started talking about full statehood to Delhi and also taking control of DDA and Delhi Police. What do you say?
The BJP government headed by Shri Atal Behari Vajapyee had introduced a Bill to this effect in the Parliament but due to certain objections raised by the Congress people it was referred to a select committee headed by Pranab Mukherjee in 2004. But the report of that committee never came. Now we will ensure that under Shri Narendra Modi regime we will honestly ensure full statehood to Delhi. Smt Dikshit has been in power for 15 years and during ten years of which there has been a Congress Government at the Centre. Her failure proves she either was casual and insensitive to this demand or there are no takers to her demand at the Centre.
It is general perception that the BJP lost all three previous Assembly elections due to infighting. Will there be unity this time?
I don’t agree with it. You look at the last 15 years the BJP won all the seven Lok Sabha seats in 1999 and in 2007. We won the MCD. In 2008 we won Delhi Cant elections in a big way and now in 2012 too we won all the three MCDs again. In Assembly also we improved our tally.
How do you look at the BSP and Aam Aadmi Party?
There are so many parties in the country. One more has been added. Our traditional rival has always been the Congress. It is still the Congress. Any party may join the fray, but the people of Delhi have realised that only the BJP can ensure the defeat of Congress. Nobody is going to waste his/her vote for any such parties.
Chhattisgarh: First phase polling on November 11
Though the Congress had initially gained mileage after announcing its first list of candidates ahead of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the first phase of Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh to be held on November 11 — both by using Rahul Gandhi formula and ‘sympathy factor’, a pre-poll survey has projected the ruling BJP as the ultimate winner.
According to the pre-poll survey conducted jointly by the CNN-IBN, The Week and the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), the BJP will get another term to rule in Chhattisgarh and expected to get 61-71 seats.
The Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi got a special survey done before giving tickets to party candidates, so as to ensure transparency and a fair-play in distribution of tickets to the “right candidates”. As a result, Samu Kashyap a Vanvasi Panchayat secretary from Jagdalpur, with no political lineage or a god-father to back him up, got Congress ticket to contest from Jagdalpur constituency. Overnight he became the poster boy for the faction-ridden Congress.
Considering the sympathy factor, Congress also gave tickets to Devati Karma from and Alka Mudliyar, widows of slain Congress leaders in Maoist ambush at Darbha Valley in Bastar, Mahendra Karma and Uday Mudliyar respectively. Ticket has also been given to slain State Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel’s son Umesh Patel. And, finally return of Ajit Jogi in the helm of affairs, has infused a renewed energy amongst Congress workers.
But, with the announcement of the second list and giving two tickets to Jogi’s wife Renu Jogi and son Amit Jogi raised eyebrows and caused dissension within the party, albeit, in a subtle manner. Though a section prefers Jogi as chief minister if Congress comes to power, the survey shows Raman Singh as the most preferred CM on the basis of performance (69 per cent).
Despite a drop in satisfaction level in government performance to 66 per cent from 72 per cent, the survey keeps BJP ahead by projecting that the party will surpass its previous 50 seats in 2008, and would get 10 to 20 seats more this time.
The first phase of polling in Chhattisgarh will take place in the Maoist hotbed in 18 constituencies in eight districts — Bastar, Bijapur, Kondagaon, Sukma, Narayanpur, Dantewada, Kanker and Rajnandgaon. Reflecting on the mood in the Maoist-affected South Chhattisgarh, with 13 seats, the pre-poll survey forecasts BJP ahead of the Congress, and this can prove to be game-changer.
A keen contest seems to be offing in chief minister’s home constituency — Rajanandgaon, where he will take on Alka Mudliyar. The chief minister Dr Raman Singh has apparently claimed that he would create a record of sorts by getting re-elected.
The belt comprising 18 constituencies and facing the first phase of Chhattisgarh election, has a sizeable converted Christian Vanvasi population, whose votes matter a lot, and will add to the winnability factor. “Christian community is with the BJP and we’ll ensure that under the leadership of Dr Raman Singh, the party comes to power for the third time,” said Bernard Rodrigues, a nominated MLA from the Anglo-Indian Community in the Chhattisgarh Assembly. In addition, the BJP seems to have an upper hand with the inclusion of Kamal Chandra Bhanj Deo, the grandson of much adored erstwhile Bastar ruler Pravir Chandra Bhanj Deo’s younger brother. Bhanj Deo is expected to woo voters in favour of the party. But, the survey, with a small sample size of 1861 respondents predicting the BJP a gainer, might prove to be a tight rope walk for the ruling Raman Singh government to win votes in the Maoist hotbed Bastar.
CPI’s new political arithmetic and the most important of all – the anti-incumbency factor would have a lot to do with the ultimate victory – whether for the ruling BJP or the Opposition Congress in the first phase of the polls in Chhattisgarh.
(The writer is a Delhi based senior journalist who writes on Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh)