There are only a handful Lok Sabha constituencies in the country where one family or person has been all pervasive over the decades. Tehri in Garhwal region of Uttarak-hand is one such.
The royal family of Tehri and especially the late Maharaja Manvendra Shah, the last ruler of the dynasty has been almost synonymous with this seat for close to six decades.
The coming general elections would be the first in 18 years and only the fifth time since 1951 when no one from the family would be in fray. Absence of the Shahs could be crucial in deciding the outcome in Tehri where three main players are likely to contest.
The star contestant of Tehri this year is ace shooter Jaspal Rana on a BJP ticket. Rana shot to fame in 1994 when he won a gold at the Hiroshima Asian Games and followed up with a gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
However, “the absence of the royal family would be a big factor in this election. It would hurt the BJP and boost our prospects,” said Congress candidate Vijay Bahuguna.
The royal family has been in electoral politics in Tehri since 1951, when Maharani Kamlendu Mati Shah won as an Independent. Between 1957 and 1967, Manvendra Shah won thrice as a Congressman. But in the next general election, he was denied a ticket by Congress.
Shah contested as an Independent and lost. He made a grand re-entry as a BJP candidate in 1991 and comfortably defeated sitting Congress MP Brahm Dutt. Shah and the BJP retained the seat till his death in 2006. In the by-election, BJP fielded Shah’s son Manujendra. He lost. This year, both Manujendra and wife were keen on contesting, but the BJP picked Rana, ending the royal run.