Poll officials here are awaiting the Election Commission's response to a complaint against the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) candidate from Mandi parliamentary constituency Maheshwar Singh for using the term "raja" (king) as a prefix to his name in his nomination papers.
Maheshwar Singh, scion of the erstwhile Kullu royal family, has written his name in the nomination papers as Raja Maheshwar Singh, aged 61 years, son of the late Raja Mohinder Singh, a resident of Rupi Palace, Raghunathpur, Kullu.
Titles like "maharaja" or "raja" have long been withdrawn by the government and are not supposed to be used in any government document.
"We received a complaint on Saturday but nothing could be done in this regard at our level so we forwarded it to the Election Commission. We are awaiting a reply," Himachal Chief Electoral Officer Anil Khachi told IANS on Tuesday.
Complainant Lawan Thakur said that Maheshwar Singh had used the title "raja" this time alone. "Maheshwar Singh has used the title of 'raja' only this time. His previous nomination papers (filed during the 1989, 1998, 1999, 1991 and 2004 elections), do not have the word 'raja' as a prefix to his name," Thakur said.
"By using the title, Maheshwar has violated the constitution of India. The use of titles was banned following the abolition of the privy purses in 1971," he added.
However, Maheshwar Singh said that he had added the world "raja" to his name as the voters' list too mentioned his name as Raja Maheshwar Singh. "As per law, I have to mention my name in the nomination papers as per the electoral rolls. So it is not my fault," he said.
The Mandi constituency has mostly been a safe bet for the descendants of royal families, who have won it 10 times in 14 Lok Sabha elections. This time also the battle is between two candidates from erstwhile princely families.
Maheshwar Singh's arch-rival, Congress leader and five-time former chief minister Virbhadra Singh, belongs to the former royal family of Bushehr.
Sitting MP Pratibha Singh, the wife of Virbhadra Singh, is also from a royal family.