Vijay Goel: BJP’s Defender or Dud?

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Far far away Vijay Goel’s appointment as Delhi BJP president has not gone down well with certain factions of the party. Photo: Vijay Pandey
Vijay Goel’s appointment as Delhi BJP president has not gone down well with certain factions of the party Photo: Vijay Pandey

Opinion polls being conducted in Delhi are as divergent as can possibly be. One puts the Congress on top, another the BJP and a third the Aam Aadmi Party. But no matter what poll you look at, the one thing they are all unanimous on is that the BJP’s Delhi President, Vijay Kumar Goel is the least favourite contender for the Chief Minister’s post.

Some say Goel is partly a victim of circumstance. Delhi got bumped up from Union Territory to state in 1993 under the BJP government. And the first three chief ministers thereafter were all from that party. Unfortunately for Mr Goel, they messed it up. And in the face of the steely determination of Congress party’s Sheila Dikshit, the BJP’s Delhi cadre was thoroughly decimated.

To put the BJP back on track again, it can be argued, will require perhaps the charisma and aggression of Narendra Modi. In contrast, Vijay Goel’s persona is anything but aggressive. His primary skill, his party maintains, is political acumen. Some of this may have been handed down to him by his politician father and former speaker of the Delhi state assembly, Charti Lal Goel.

Vijay Goel, a three-time MP and former Minister in the NDA government, was seen as operating below the radar and a major troubleshooter in the time of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He has also been reportedly instrumental in raising funds for the party. In his more public avatar, as a contestant from old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, Goel was known for holding public durbars or hearings where people can air their grievances. He is also known for his campaigns to have lotteries banned. While all of these attributes have certainly been valuable to the BJP, they haven’t quite been able to stir the ever restless Delhi voters.

Not many know that Vijay Goel was amongst those from the opposition party who went to jail when Congress Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed emergency rule in 1975.

Now, he is saying to the people of Delhi that he is the real crusader against corruption. And the other word he’s using as his mantra is ‘development’. He claims that lakhs of people have turned up at his rallies. But those numbers, even when Modi was the big star in attendance, have been questioned by some sections of the media.

On his website, Vijay Goel is described as a writer, historian, photographer, musician, singer, sportsman, activist, environmentalist, educationist, reformer and social worker in addition to being a politician. The list of promises he is making to Delhi’s people are equally impressive and important. Despite all this, opinion polls show that Goel has so far not been able to rally enough numbers around a single pivot. Of course, it must be said, opinion polls often turn out to be wrong.

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Revati Laul has been a television journalist and documentary film maker for most of her 16 year career. Ten of those were spent in NDTV where her reports included everything from the aftermath of the Gujarat riots to following truck drivers into ULFA infested Assam. Then about a year and a half ago, she decided to tell her stories in indelible ink instead. Most people said she made an upside down decision but she firmly believes she’s found food for the soul. She was hired by Tehelka to write on politics. For her this does not mean tracking the big fish but looking closely at how the tiny fish are getting swallowed and by whom. On most days though, she can be found conversing on her other two favourite subjects – fornication and food. Fiction is another friend of hers. A short story she wrote called `Drool’ was published in an anthology of young fiction by Zubaan. She is also founder member of the NGO ‘Tara’ that looks after underpriviledged children.

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