Polls apart: a tale of two wives | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Polls apart: a tale of two wives

She may have not got a ticket herself, but Pratibha Singh is as busy as any candidate. Wife of veteran Congress leader Virbhadra Singh, the 56-year-old former MP is toiling hard to come up trumps as the kingmaker.

chandigarh Updated: Oct 25, 2012 23:02 IST

For HP Congress' First Lady, it's a new battle on old turf

She may have not got a ticket herself, but Pratibha Singh is as busy as any candidate. Wife of veteran Congress leader Virbhadra Singh, the 56-year-old former MP is toiling hard to come up trumps as the kingmaker.

An active campaigner for her husband for the past two decades, she starts off her campaign schedule around 9am every day, reaching out with her door-to-door drive, holding meetings and addressing the public till at least 10pm.
"If we have to travel more, the day starts off as early as 6am sometimes," said Pratibha, who was in the fray for the ticket from her paternal region Kusumpti.

Besides campaigning in the Shimla rural segment, she also covers Rampur and adjoining areas. Deeply religious, she started the campaign after paying obeisance at the Bhima Kali Temple at Sarahan last Monday. "Some of the areas that I am visiting are not new to me. I have come to the places earlier too to campaign for myself, as some of the areas fell under my parliamentary constituency," said Pratibha, referring to the 2004 Lok Sabha polls when she won from Mandi.

With just nine days to go for the high-stakes political battle, she has intensified her canvassing. The areas covered so far include Rampur, Karsog and Anni, while Friday was scheduled for Chopal, after which the focus would be back on Shimla rural.

Dressed in an all-weather salwar-kameez, she not only asks for votes but also relates to the masses by discussing their problems and issues, besides highlighting the promises of the party manifesto.

"People have been complaining of the area having been neglected in the five years of BJP rule. All issues would be redressed once we are voted to power," she said.

Mrs Dhumal prefers the 'home ministry'

Sheela Dhumal has a calming influence, and she prefers to employ it within the household. Never seen campaigning for her husband, incumbent chief minister and BJP stalwart Prem Kumar Dhumal, the 58-year-old homemaker has not forayed to seek votes ever since 1984, when her husband contested the Hamirpur parliamentary polls unsuccessfully.

Even in an age when wives seeking votes has become a trend in the tiny hilly state, Sheela has let the protégés of her husband to lead.

Speaking from the family's native village Samirpur, she insisted, "It's not that I don't like politics or keep away from election talk. But when the entire family is out of the house campaigning, I take care of the house the house and visitors."

"Even Dhumal-ji has never asked me to come out and seek votes for him or his party," she added shyly.

Within the Dhumal clan, she is the one who takes care of family obligations and nurtures relationships, as the rest of the family remains busy in politics and business. Her elder son Anurag Thakur is now the MP from Hamirpur, besides being national chief of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), while younger son Arun Thakur takes care of the family business.

Family sources said she likes gardening and prefers cooking for his husband and the family when they get the time to meet in Samirpur, or Oak Over, the official residence of the chief minister in Shimla.

Jaishree seeks blessings for Mankotia

Politics is tough business. But standing by her husband against the odds, she is toiling as hard as ever, canvassing for Vijai Singh Mankotia who is in poll fray for the eighth time.

Meet Jaishree Mankotia, wife of Congress nominee from Shahpur constituency, Vijai Singh Mankotia. Emitting grace, apparent kindness and a certain amount of charisma, she is carrying out door-to-door campaign in the rugged terrains seeking support for husband. On an average, she covers 100 houses per day.

But that's not all. Before starting with the poll campaign every morning, she manages everything in the house right from entertaining the guests who come to meet Vijai in the morning to distributing the propaganda material to the workers who move in all directions.

"I had been campaigning for him since he joined politics. I was relaxed this time but his decision surprised me," said Jaishree, talking to HT in Bandi village, where she was campaigning.

"I work till late in the night. We are skipping our lunch for the past two weeks. A short tea break is all the rest we take," she said, hoping that the people of Shahpur, who have "blessed" her husband five times earlier, would send him to the Vidhan Sabha this time too.