Doctors in fray,wives take over clinics and campaigns

BJP’s CM candidate Harsh Vardhan will take on Congress' V K Monga.

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | New Delhi | Published: November 20, 2013 1:47:36 am

It’s a doctor vs doctor fight in Krishna Nagar. The BJP’s CM candidate Dr Harsh Vardhan will take on Congress’ Dr V K Monga,a former BJP councillor from the area,in the upcoming Delhi Assembly elections.

The two opponents have many similarities. Both are practising doctors and former colleagues,and have held positions in the health department at the state and corporation-level,respectively.

Despite their similarities,both are quick to rubbish arguments about confusing the voter.

Earlier this year,Dr Monga had quit the BJP and joined the Congress,after he was not given a ticket in the last municipal polls when his seat became reserved for women candidates.

“I was the one who got Dr Monga a seat in 2007,and in 2008. If the seat became reserved for women candidates,I could not have done anything. He has chosen to join a sinking ship,so that is up to him. I have never bothered about who contests against me in the past 20 years,so why should I care now?” Harsh Vardhan said.

Dr Monga in turn blamed Harsh Vardhan’s “arrogant attitude” for his decision. “There was too much negativity,too much arrogance and I found that to be a hindrance. There were double-faced people playing games instead of focussing on work,” he said.

Dr Harsh Vardhan boasts of his achievements as health minister — kick-starting the polio campaign,starting several preventive health and maternal health programmes and trying to build infrastructure in health.

Dr Monga,who was head of the health committee of the municipal corporation,too has some feathers in his cap — obtaining approval for starting a medical college and revamp of the municipal corporation’s flagship Rajan Babu TB Institute.

The two candidates,who live about a kilometre apart,have clinics in the area,where their patients and fellow doctors are missing them over the last few weeks with campaigning gathering pace.

At Dr Harsh Vardhan’s clinic in E-Block,he has only been dropping to see occasional “VIP” patients. His colleague since 2002,Dr Amit Jain has been taking care of patients in his absence.

“Dr Harsh Vardhan has been devoting at least three days to the clinic even though he has been the local MLA for years now and has a busy political life. He has patients who have been coming to him for 20-30 years and now they are bringing their children and grandchildren to see him.” Dr Jain said.

He added that most patients still asked for Dr Harsh Vardhan first,but have now “started getting comfortable with me also”.

“Unlike other private practitioners who tend to recommend surgery at the drop of a hat,Dr Harsh Vardhan has a patient’s best interest in mind. He tries out medicines first and for him surgery is always the last resort,” Dr Jain said.

At Dr Monga’s clinic and nursing home in F-Block of Krishna Nagar,his colleagues swear by his humility and patient care.

Amit Kumar Bisht,the pharmacist in his 40-bed nursing home,said,“Dr Monga has always been a soft-spoken,gentle person and patients come from as far as Meerut and Baghpat,even though he is only a general physician.”

He said in the run-up to the polls,Dr Monga’s patients were missing him in the evening OPD,even though other doctors have been deputed to man the clinic in his absence.

Both doctors have turned to their better halves to campaign for them,especially among women voters.

In the last Assembly elections,Dr Harsh Vardhan had won the Krishna Nagar seat with a narrow margin of 3,000 votes against Congress candidate Deepika Khullar.

Now that he has become the face of the BJP across the city,Harsh Vardhan has little time to campaign in his constituency. Party workers said his wife is filling in for him.

Harsh Vardhan,however,is confident of winning the seat he has been winning since 1993. “In 2008,the Delhi government had brought about the delimitation policy just before the elections,which removed 35 per cent of my constituency,and they thought that would be the end of Dr Harsh Vardhan. Several areas where people never vote for BJP were included in my constituency. Despite that,65 per cent of my original constituency ensured my victory,” Harsh Vardhan said.

For Dr Monga,his wife,who is a gynaecologist,has stepped in and is conducting daily rounds to meet women voters.

“This is the first time that she has stepped in to help him. In the municipal elections,Dr Monga had managed on his own. Assembly elections are much bigger and so his wife is actively helping him,” a Congress worker said.

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