Poor roads, lack of staff at health institutions, treading long distances and increased worries if roads are blocked due to heavy snow. These are not the woes of some remote village of Himachal Pradesh, but of those residing at the chief minister's stronghold Rampur.
Though Rampur, which once comprised major portion of the Bushahr kingdom founded by the ancestors of the chief minister, is considered to be a high-profile constituency, the pace of the development here has been below expectation so far.
Areas of barah beesh and pandraha beesh are still crying for the government attention. Roads in these two areas are in poor state.
Rampur, one of the 17 assembly segments comprising Mandi parliamentary seat, is witnessing hectic electioneering these days. With Virbhadra Singh campaigning in other parts, the opposition BJP is questioning the Congress over its promises made by the party during elections.
“Many health institutions in the area are still understaffed and roads offer a bumpy ride. If the government wanted, it could have done much in its five-month tenure,” said Suresh Bhardwaj, Shimla legislator who is campaigning in the area.
“The BJP government had announced a college for Nankhari area, but the Congress closed it and people have moved the court. The Congress had promised district status for Rampur during the assembly elections, but there is no mention of it now,” said Vijay Singh, a local BJP leader.
Whatsoever may have been the reasons for the slow pace of development here, being scion of princely state of Rampur Bushahr electorate in Rampur has always sided with the chief minister and his wife Pratibha Singh. Be it assembly or parliament elections, Rampur always provided safety net to Singhs.
In 2004, Pratibha Singh secured a lead of 25,000 votes from Rampur, while in 2009, Virbhadra Singh got 15,000 votes more than BJP candidate Maheshwar Singh.
It was lead from Rampur that made Virbhadra Singh win elections with a margin of 25,000 votes. With Virbhadra Singh busy touring other areas in the wake of Mandi bypoll, chief parliamentary secretary Nand Lal is spearheading the campaign in Rampur.
Lal had been picked by Virbhadra Singh to contest the assembly elections in 2007 after his onetime strong loyalist former horticulture minister Singhi Ram fell apart.
With Virbhadra Singh's support, Ram had represented Rampur in Vidhan Sabha for five consecutive terms. “People of Rampur suffered during the BJP regime as developmental works in the area had come to a grinding halt. But this time, things have changed. Developmental works being carried out in the area are visible to everyone.” This is how Lal strikes a chord with the locals while seeking votes for Congress nominee Pratibha Singh.
“Raja Sahib (Virbhadra Singh) has immense faith in people of Rampur. Since he is busy campaigning in other parts of Mandi, we have to ensure that we provide maximum lead from Rampur,” he said.
Virbhadra Singh enjoys immense support in the areas of Bara beesh, Taklech, Narian, Beothal, Suradh Lalahan, Delath.
“Humaray liye to Raja he sab kuch hein. (For us the king (CM) is everything) said Roshan Lal of Deothi village.
BJP's Shimla Lok Sabha member Virender Kashyap is the party's election in-charge for Rampur, while Rajya Sabha member Bimla Kashyap is also campaigning in the area. Former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal is likely to visit the area for two days.