Sunday 18 March 2018
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Himachal Elections 2017: Battle of supremacy in Kullu, Greenhorn in Banjar

The political air in the otherwise cool and soothing atmosphere of Kullu is heating with a bitter political battle for supremacy between the two stalwarts and political rivals: Maheshwar Singh, sitting MLA from Kullu (Sadar), and Congress’ contestant Sunder Singh Thakur. Both political rivals are now engaged in a political battle and are expected to leave no stone unturned to woo the electorate.

The only difference in Himachal Elections 2017, however, is Maheshwar Singh who is fighting election on the BJP ticket unlike in 2012 elections wherein he quit the party and formed his own Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP). He was the only candidate, who won the election from HLP by defeating the then BJP candidate Ram Sing with a margin of 2985 votes, while pushing the current Congress candidate, Sunder Singh Thakur, who the party has again shown faith in yet again, to the third place.

Having said this, it’s a duel battle in Himachal Elections 2017 and Maheshwar Singh, the royal family scion, has a considerable clout and political reputation he is expected to defend with relative ease. His chances look bright as it’s an election at a time when there is a BJP government at the center and anti-incumbency factor in Himachal. To top it all, being a chief caretaker of Lord Raghunath, the chief deity of Kullu, his religious and social connect always keep him ahead of his political adversary.

However, things won’t be that easy too as Sunder, who is a close ally and have good ties with the incumbent chief minister Virbhadra Singh, has done every little bit possible at his end to build his image in the area in the last five years by bringing in scores of development projects. Things will only be clear in the course of time. Let’s wait and watch the political wind to take the route.

In the adjoining Banjar constituency of Kullu, the political battle is locked between two young bloods of the area: Aditya Vikram Singh, 32, and Surinder Shourie, 36. The former is the son of ex Ayurveda Minister and Congress MLA, late Karan Singh, who passed in May this year, and latter a BJP zila parishad member.

Aditya is banking on and seems to benefit from the sympathy and rapport, inherited as well as earned, among the voters of Banjar constituency. With these two in fray and flexing muscles for supremacy, the main battle will remain between Congress and BJP. However, Congress might have edge over BJP in Banjar. The reason being, BJP is in the state of rebellious on his candidature, which is the biggest challenge for Shourie.

This is because the former BJP MLA and ex state president of BJP, Khimi Ram, has been denied party ticket. Although Khimi Ram decided against entering the fray as an independent candidate, yet it is highly unlikely that he will support Shourie. The fears of BJP weakening in events of revolt and distrust within Khimi’s supporters loom large. Much to the chagrin of BJP candidate, a fraction of the party that Rohini Chaudhary, the chairperson of Kullu Zila parishad represents, wasn’t in support of Shourie’s candidate. So, only the anti-incumbency factor may propel Shourie’s political boat this time.

The current situation seems to go in Congress’ favor who backs on rapport, respect and impeccable image that Karan Singh, the scion of the erstwhile Kullu royal family, enjoyed in the area. The residents of the area still remember him as a kind hearted and down to earth leader, and his son, as it seems for the time being, is following his father’s footsteps. Moreover, Karan Singh’s wife is campaigning for her son hard. The fact that Karan Singh has won on BJP ticket earlier and on Congress’ later on speaks volumes about the esteem the people of the area hold him may come handy for Aditya.

Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last eight years.