Loyalty for 10, Janpath in Delhi could have helped Prakash Karad, the son of a cook who worked at the Gandhi household, get a Congress ticket, scoring over party heavyweight and three times MLA from Akri, Dharam Pal but the going is getting tough for him.
Karad is not only facing flak from within his own party but he has been experiencing a formidable challenge from the BJP.
His “unexpected” nomination has created stiff opposition from a section of Congress loyalists supporting the candidature of Pal, who is now contesting as an independent.
The BJP, on the other hand, has fielded Govind Ram Sharma who is also considered to be a popular figure in the area.
To fight against all odds, the 37-year-old Congressman from Kunihar and the only reserved category candidate in Himachal, has been heavily depending on senior leaders, including Amar Chand Paul.
He, however, claims that proximity to Sonia Gandhi will help him gain ground in the electoral battlefield. “I have been working for the party in Arki for 15 years. I applied for a ticket for the first time in all these years. Madam gave me a chance because she thought that the youth could perform better. She is confident that I will not let her down as my family has had a long-standing loyalty for the Congress”.
Apprehensive that Pal, who is generally perceived as Virbhadra Singh’s man, could outwit him, Karad is quick to add, “Along with Sonia ji, I have the blessings of Virbhadra Singh also. I went to Holly Lodge as soon as I got the ticket and he assured me that he was with me.”
“I promise you, if you give me a chance, I will try to make Arki a second Amethi of the country.
I am contesting elections for the first time. At times senior members of the party would teach me how I should go about it and at other times you would be the ones to guide me. If you help me win the seat it is not you who would carry me on your shoulders, I would be the one who would carry you and sort out your problems,” he commits at a meeting in Dhundan village.
Although Karad is not critical of Pal, the former Congressman, is not ready to leave the battlefield without a fight. “It would be clear once the election results are declared who is capable and who is not. Sonia Gandhi has distributed party tickets but it takes a lot more to win the elections,” he declares.