The medical fraternity in the capital seems split over who to support in the elections former Health Minister and ENT specialist Dr Harsh Vardhan,who is the BJPs chief ministerial candidate,or prominent Congress leader and present Health Minister Dr A K Walia,also a doctor turned politician.
Not to be left behind,the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is also wooing doctors,fielding an anaesthetist and former office-bearer of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) from Vishwas Nagar.
Though the Delhi Medical Association (DMA) does not formally come out in support of any party,doctors,in their individual capacities,are rallying round candidates of their choice.
DMAs former president Dr Harish Gupta,for instance,is drumming up support for the BJP,citing Harsh Vardhans clean image.
All of us see a number of patients and enjoy good rapport with them. We will urge them to vote for an honest candidate. Doctors across government hospitals have expressed support for Harsh Vardhan. A slogan Dr Honest,Dr Clean,Dr Harsh Vardhan yehi hai right choice baby is doing the rounds. We will soon start a Facebook page to enlist support for him, Gupta said.
A meeting will be held between November 18 and 20 at Thyagraj stadium,where doctors from across the city will congregate to pledge support for Harsh Vardhan. Several senior BJP leaders will attend the meeting. In all likelihood,Narendra Modi too will attend it, Gupta said.
Walia,too,has his supporters among doctors. Senior doctors working at government hospitals,including Lok Nayak and GB Pant,which come under the Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) where Walia had worked briefly after completing his MBBS in 1972,are still loyal to their former colleague.
He may have failed to please all groups,primarily young specialists and super specialists who have been employed on contract basis and whose services have not been regularised,but for us he is a member of our fraternity. One also has to acknowledge that his second tenure was very short and he tried his best to expedite all projects, a faculty member at the department of medicine at MAMC said.
Admitting that hospitals had seen high attrition rates by these contractual doctors affecting day-to-day functioning,he said,Its not like Harsh Vardhan had managed to address this problem in his term.
The faculty member said that though doctors at government hospitals cannot officially ally themselves with any party,Dr Walia knows we are behind him.
Another former DMA president,who recently quit the BJP to join the Congress citing differences with his former colleague and neighbour Harsh Vardhan,Dr V K Monga said it was wrong to see the elections as a battle between doctors. Whether it is within Krishna Nagar or across the city,different doctors may have affiliations with different parties. Even within Krishna Nagar,I have colleagues who are doctors; some of them are close to the Congress and some are associated with the BJP. Associations such as the DMA or IMA cannot issue directives that one has to support a particular party,and it is wrong for anybody to suggest so.
AAP candidate from Vishwas Nagar,Dr Atul Gupta,an anaesthetist and former president of the IMA,East Delhi,claimed that majority of young doctors were rallying behind the AAP. Barring a few doctors who may be traditional supporters of the Congress or the BJP,the majority of medical practitioners in government or private hospitals are tired of the rampant corruption in the healthcare sector in the capital. They are all supporting the AAP and approaching us on their own, Dr Gupta claimed.
Meanwhile,DMA president Dr Anil Aggarwal said while parties may have leaders who were doctors,their campaigns were saying little about addressing healthcare issues in the city. Fielding doctors as the face of the party is not enough. Whether it is the Congress,the BJP or the AAP,I have not seen any party offering concrete solutions to the problems plaguing the healthcare sector. In fact,they are hardly touching on health as an issue, he said.