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Dropped from BJP's first candidate list for Lok Sabha polls, Dr Harsh Vardhan to quit politics

The drastic decision of the former health minister, still far away from the unofficial retirement age of 75 in the BJP, indicated a sense of unease with the current party leadership

J.P. Yadav New Delhi Published 04.03.24, 06:53 AM
Harsh Vardhan.

Harsh Vardhan. File picture

Former health minister and senior BJP leader Dr Harsh Vardhan on Sunday announced his decision to quit politics, a day after the party denied him renomination from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha seat.

The drastic decision of the 69-year-old leader, still far away from the unofficial
retirement age of 75 in the BJP, indicated a sense of unease with the current
party leadership.


In a long post on X, Harsh Vardhan, an old guard and widely respected Delhi BJP leader, said he would now return to his roots and practise as a full-time ENT surgeon.

“After over 30 years of a glorious electoral career, during which I won all the 5 Assembly and 2 parliamentary elections that I fought with exemplary margins, and held a multitude of positions in the party organisation and the governments at the state and Centre I finally bow out to return to my roots,” Vardhan said in his post. “My ENT clinic at Krishna Nagar too awaits my return,” he said.

In the first list of 195 candidates announced by the BJP on Saturday, four out of five sitting candidates in Delhi had been dropped. Vardhan was replaced by Praveen Khandelwal, a local businessman. Delhi has seven Lok Sabha seats.

The BJP MP from East Delhi, Gautam Gambhir, has also announced his decision to quit active politics. His replacement hasn’t been announced so far.

Vardhan was a Union health minister before he was dropped in the second tenure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi following the two Covid-19 waves. He was replaced by Mansukh Mandaviya, hailing from Modi’s home state Gujarat.

Although Vardhan, deeply rooted in the RSS, hailed Modi as the “most dynamic Prime Minister in India’s history” and acknowledged his “great privilege” of having worked with him, party insiders said his decision to quit active politics betrayed a sense of anger with the leadership’s decision to drop him as a candidate. He has represented the Chandni Chowk seat for two terms.

“I move on, I really can’t wait. I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep,” Vardhan said.

Another former party general secretary with deep roots in the RSS, P. Muralidhar Rao, has been denied nomination from the Malkajgiri seat in Telangana.
“In the last few years, my associates, colleagues, dedicated workers of the party and well-wishers who toiled with me in conducting campaigns, events, and various engagements in Malkajgiri...I extend my heartfelt thanks to all of them. Very soon, I will interact and communicate with you to chart future courses,” Rao said on X.

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