Lok Sabha polls: Denied ticket, BJP veteran Dr Harsh Vardhan quits politics

Vardhan becomes the second BJP leader to quit politics before the Lok Sabha polls following East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir's exit

Dr Harsh Vardhan wishes to go back to his medical practice (photo: @drharshvardhan/X)
Dr Harsh Vardhan wishes to go back to his medical practice (photo: @drharshvardhan/X)

NH Political Bureau

Denied a ticket for the Lok Sabha 2024 elections, former Union health minister and senior BJP leader Dr Harsh Vardhan has decided to exit politics just ahead of the polls.

In an extensive and emotive post on X, Harsh Vardhan, who was known as the representative of the Atal-Advani era in the 'Modi-fied BJP, announced his return to his ENT clinic in Krishna Nagar.

Harsh Vardhan becomes the second Delhi BJP leader in two days to abruptly quit politics. On Saturday, hours before the BJP released its first list of candidates, East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir also declared his retirement from politics. Both Gambhir and Harsh Vardhan were denied tickets by the BJP high command.

Representing the Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha seat consecutively in 2014 and 2019, Harsh Vardhan was appointed minister for health and family welfare in the first Modi cabinet. He was also assigned additional responsibilities for the ministry of science and technology and the ministry of earth sciences. In 2021, Harsh Vardhan faced calls to resign from the Modi cabinet, being blamed for the mishandling of the Coronavirus pandemic.

"After over thirty years of a glorious electoral career, during which I won all the five assemblies and two parliamentary elections that I fought with exemplary margins and held a multitude of prestigious positions in the party organisation and the governments at the state and Centre, I finally bow out to return to my roots," wrote Harsh Vardhan on X.

Highlighting his decades-old association with the BJP's parent organisation RSS, Harsh Vardhan, who is also credited with strengthening the BJP in the capital, added, "A swayamsewak at heart, I have always been an ardent admirer of Deen Dayal Upadhyay ji’s Antodaya philosophy of striving to serve the last man in the queue. It was at the insistence of the then-RSS leadership that I jumped into the electoral fray. They could convince me only because for me politics meant an opportunity to fight our three main enemies — poverty, disease and ignorance.

"A big shout out for all those who stood by me like a rock while I clocked many firsts and led a fulfilled political life. I move on, I really can’t wait. I have promises to keep…and miles to go before I sleep!! I have a dream...and I know your blessings shall always remain with me. My ENT clinic at Krishna Nagar too awaits my return."

Harsh Vardhan entered politics in 1993, when the BJP formed a government in Delhi for the first time. Before contesting for the Lok Sabha, he secured three victories from the Krishna Nagar Assembly segment. During his tenure, he served in various capacities, overseeing portfolios such as education, law, and health within the BJP government in Delhi.

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