Seeking to retain her seat for the third time, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh's wife Pratibha Singh on Thursday filed her nomination from Mandi Parliamentary seat, promising development of railway infrastructure in the Himalayan state which so far is serviced by toy trains.
According to political pundits, Pratibha, who will seek to retain her seat for the third time, will sail through with a comfortable victory margin. Her rival Ram Swaroop Sharma of BJP is reaching out to voters positioning himself as a common man.
"We will ensure that her victory margin is more than last time when she defeated her nearest rival by over 1.30 lakh votes in the last bi-election to the seat," said a local Congress leaders who accompanied her for filing of the nomination.
Pratibha belongs to the erstwhile royal family of Keonthal state, which consider this seat as a safe bet where the polls are due on May 7.
Dismissing any Modi wave in her state, she said people will vote based on the developments brought about by her in the constituency, the second biggest in the country after Barmer in Rajasthan.
However, reaching out to the voters in the fur-flung areas is a big challenge for her given the inhospitable terrain and unpredictable climate.
"Monsoon is a problem reaching fur-flung areas.I cannot go because of snowfall but I have instructed my supporters and party workers to start the campaigning process as elections are not far away," she said.
The Mandi parliamentary constituency comprises tribal dominated assembly constituencies of Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti and Bhermour.
Pratibha won the Mandi parliamentary bypoll last year by defeating Jai Ram Thakur of BJP by over 1.30 lakh votes.
"My priorities this time would be expanding the railway network as Himachal is lagging behind other states.I have raised the issue in Parliament several times. Now I will try to expedite it. I spoke to the then Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and he had shown keen interest in improving rail connectivity to the state. But nothing much happened after that," she said.
She said the state government has agreed to provide land and bear 50 per cent of the cost of the project.