Price of onions, women security top Harsh Vardhan's poll agenda

The suave, tech-savvy doctor is now the face of Bharatiya Janata Party in Delhi. The party’s chief ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan tells Rahul Chhabra why Delhiites, in his opinion, are raring to bid farewell to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and her government in the December 4 Assembly elections. Excerpts from an interview.

Are costly onions the top agenda in the coming elections?

Sky-rocketing prices of onions are just one facet of the all pervasive inflation. People today are suffering due to high prices of onions and vegetables and also of milk, grocery items, diesel, petrol and CNG, cement and bricks. Even water and power charges have spiralled in the city.   
 
Has the issue of women’s security taken a back seat?

No way. The Congress-led state government is not serious to address the issue of women issues despite brutal gang rape incidents of 23-year-old ‘Nirbhaya’ in southwest Delhi and five-year-old ‘Gudiya’ in east Delhi.

 After ‘Nirbhaya’ gang rape and protests by the youths in December 2012, Dikshit came up with an excuse that the Delhi Police was not under her government’s control. The defence was weak. It is her party’s government which is at the Centre and controls the police.
It is unfortunate that soon after media person Soumya Vishwanathan fell victim to a violent crime in south Delhi in 2009, the chief minister had asked as to what was the need for her to go out at a late hour (around 3 am).

She, probably, doesn’t know that so many women are supporting their families by working in late shifts. It is the government’s responsibility to provide them security.
If Mumbai, Chennai, London and New York can give a safe environment to women, why can’t Delhi?

The promises made after the ‘Nirbhaya’ gang rape that there would be security personnel deployed in public transport buses and bus stops have not been kept.

Have education facilities in the city improved under the 15-year rule of the Congress?
Nursery admissions in the schools are a torture for young parents. Parents of children scoring percentage of 90 and above in Class 12 also have an agonising experience getting their wards admission to the Delhi University.

Why can’t we have new colleges or double shifts in existing colleges? Why can’t we have virtual campuses where lectures of the best of teachers can reach students spread across the city? The Delhi government does not have the intention to do anything.

The Delhi government’s claim on opening five new universities is hollow as students are struggling to get admissions. Apart from the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, which was started during BJP government’s rule in 1993-98, all other varsities exist only on paper.

Sheila Dikshit has been demanding full statehood for Delhi. What is your take on this?
We are all for full statehood for Delhi. Our NDA government had even brought a Bill in Parliament for the purpose but the Congress raised objections and delayed it.

It is unfortunate that Dikshit has been raising this demand for the last 10 years and it is her own party’s government in the Centre and yet it has not been fulfilled. It shows only two things:  Either her approach to the issue is casual or her party’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde do not listen to her seriously.

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