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Candidates with blue blood sweating it out

chandigarh Updated: Oct 23, 2012 23:51 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva

The "rajas" and "maharajas" of this tiny hill state have never missed a chance to fight the battle of ballot.

This time, as many as six candidates with royal background, majority of them from the Congress, are rubbing shoulders with the commoners. The candidates with blue blood are: five-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh, Maheshwar Singh, Asha Kumari, Karan Singh, Anirudh Singh and Vijaya Jyoti Sen. Four of the six royal candidates belong to the Congress. Interestingly, not a single royal scion has found favour with the BJP this time.

Virbhadra Singh, Asha Kumari, Karan Singh and Anirudh Singh belong to the Congress, while Maheshwar Singh is the founder of Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP). Vijay Jyoti Sen is contesting the election as an Independent for the first time from Kasumpti seat.

The most known face among the pack of royals is Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee president Virbhadra Singh. Popularly known as Raja Saheb, he hails from the erstwhile Rampur Bushahr state.
He is contesting from Shimla (rural) assembly segment for the first time. Although he is 78, the Congress high command found him fit enough to hand him over the reins of the party in the state keeping in mind his widespread following among the masses.

His entry into the politics dates back to 1962, when he was elected to the Lok Sabha. He became member of the Parliament in 1967, 1972 and 1980. He got elected to the Vidhan Sabha in 1983 by-poll and became the chief minister of the state for the first time.

Virbhadra's distant relative and former member of Parliament, Maheshwar Singh, represents erstwhile Kullu royal family. After having served the BJP for decades, 68-year-old Maheshwar parted ways with the saffron party recently and formed Himachal Lokhit Party. He is contesting from Kullu seat this time. He had made entry into politics in 1977, when he contested the assembly polls on a Janta Party ticket.

Younger brother of Maheshwar Singh and former education minister Karan Singh is contesting from Banjar constituency in Kullu district on a Congress ticket. He made his political debut by winning on a BJP ticket in 1990. He again won in 1998. His relations with the BJP turned sour and he contested on a BSP ticket in 2007, but lost, only to join the Congress later.
The former education minister, Asha Kumari, who is married in the royal family of Chamba, is the Congress nominee from Dalhousie seat. She contested for the first time in 1985 and won again in 1993, 1998 and 2003.

Anirudh Singh is fighting election from Kusumpti seat on a Congress ticket for the first time and has his roots in the erstwhile Koti state of Shimla district. He is the chairman of Zila Parishad of Shimla district.

Vijaya Jyoti Sen, contesting as an Independent from Kasumpti, belongs to the Keonthal royal family. Her father-in-law Hitender Sen was a member of the first Assembly in 1952. She is the sister-in-law of Virbhadra Singh's wife Pratibha Singh.

Ever since the country witnessed first general elections in 1952, the erstwhile royals have been trying their luck in every election.

Anand Chand of the Bilaspur royal family, Lalit Sen of the Sundernagar royal family and Devindra Kumari and Padma of the Chamba royal family, all had been MLAs in the past.

Yogendra Chandra of the Jubbal royal family won in 1985 and 1998 as the Congress candidate and in 1993 as an Independent. Vijyendra Singh of the Nalagarh royal family was elected to the Vidhan Sabha five times between 1977 and 1993.