Former Union health minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Dr Harsh Vardhan on Sunday announced his retirement from active politics.

The development comes a day after the BJP released its first list of 195 candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The party has fielded businessman and general secretary of the Confederation of All India Traders, Praveen Khandelwal, from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk constituency instead of Vardhan, who has held the seat since 2014.

“After over thirty years of a glorious electoral career, during which I won all the five Assembly 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,” Vardhan said in a social media post on X.

The former Union minister added that he will continue to pursue his work against tobacco and substance abuse, climate change and the promotion of sustainability. “My ENT [ear, nose, throat] clinic at Krishna Nagar too awaits my return,” Vardhan said.

Vardhan served as Delhi’s health minister from 1993 to 1998. In 2014, he was appointed as the Union minister of health and family welfare in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre for the first time. He held the post for a second time between 2019 and 2021.

“I had the rare opportunity bestowed upon me to be able to first work towards creating a polio free Bharat and then to take care of the health of millions of our countrymen grappling with the dreaded Covid-19 during its first and second phases,” the former minister said.

Vardhan was replaced by Mansukh Mandaviya as the Union health minister in July 2021 at the height of India’s Covid-19 crisis.

Besides the Union health ministry, Vardhan has previously headed the Union ministry of science and technology, the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change, and the Union ministry of earth sciences.

On Saturday, BJP MPs Gautam Gambhir and Jayant Sinha said that they have asked the BJP’s party chief JP Nadda to relieve them of their electoral duties. Gambhir, a cricketer-turned-politician, represents the East Delhi Lok Sabha constituency.

Sinha, who has been the MP from Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh constituency since 2014, said on Saturday that he wants to focus his efforts on “combating global climate change”.