The erstwhile ‘rajas’ and ‘maharajas’ of this tiny hill state once fought over their kingdoms, now they play out their stakes at the ballot.
This time, as many as six candidates with royal background are rubbing shoulders with 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, Asha Kumari, Karan and Anirudh belong to the Congress, while Maheshwar is the founder of the Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP). Vijay Jyoti Sen of the Keonthal royal family is contesting his maiden election as an Independent from Kasumpti seat.
The most known face among the pack is Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee president Virbhadra, who entered politics and the Lok Sabha in 1962. He was re-elected in 1967, 1972 and 1980. Popularly known as Raja Saheb, he belongs to the erstwhile Rampur Bushahr state. He is contesting from Shimla (rural) assembly segment.
Virbhadra’s distant relative and former MP, Maheshwar, represents erstwhile Kullu royal family. He is contesting from Kullu seat.
Younger brother of Maheshwar and former education minister Karan is contesting from Banjar constituency in Kullu district on a Congress ticket. He made his political debut on a BJP ticket in 1990. He again won in 1998. In 2007, his relations with the BJP soured and he contested on a BSP ticket. Later, he joined the Congress.
Former education minister Asha Kumari, who is married in the royal family of Chamba, is the Congress nominee from Dalhousie seat.