Himachal Pradesh elections: Tough task ahead of Vikramaditya Singh
Shimla, Nov 6: Congress' Vikramaditya Singh has a tough challenge ahead of him with the BJP fielding Pramod Sharma, said to be a protege of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, from the Shimla (Rural) assembly seat. Virbhadra Singh vacated Shimla (Rural) seat for his son Vikramaditya Singh and will be contesting from Arki seat in 2017 polls.
The announcement of BJP ticket to Sharma came as surprise for the party as it had no potential candidate to take on Vikramaditya, who has made a debut in electoral politics. The chief minister, who had won from here by more than 20,000 votes in 2012, had nursed the constituency well and vacated the seat for his son and himself shifted to Arki.
Initially, the Congress was claiming that it was a cakewalk but entry of Sharma has upset all calculations as he hails from Sunni-Bhajji, area which has lager chunk of votes. This constituency was carved out in the delimitation carried out in 2010 and parts of Shimla, Kusumpti and Sunni area was included in it. Sunni was part of Kumarsein constituency which was scrapped in delimitation and Kotgarh and Kumarsein areas were merged into Theog Constituency while Sunni was included in newly created Shimla (Rural) constituency.
Sharma, who was denied a Congress ticket from Theog in 2012, had contested as an independent and polled 4480 votes. The BJP candidate had polled 8,892 votes against 28,889 votes polled by Virbhadra Singh and he selected this constituency for his son in the hope that it was a safe seat. The chief minister said that works worth Rs 1300 crore were taken up in this constituency during the past five years and Congress is seeking votes in the name of development.
Sharma has dubbed the election a contest between royalty and commoner, though he is avoiding attacking the chief minister or Vikramaditya. Sharma's campaign has picked up fast but BJP rebel Mohan Dass Sharma is also in the fray in the four cornered contest, causing worry to the party.
The BJP has expelled him but his supports are undeterred and making all out efforts to stay in the contest. In 2012, there was a surge in favour of the Congress but this time it is level playing field and the BJP is trying to convince the electorate that it would form the next government and that Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who is 83 years old, would not be in a position to call the shots.
Virbhadra Singh has campaigned for his son, asking people to vote for development. There are 71,073 votes in this predominantly rural but literate constituency including 36,047 men, 34226 women and 800 service voters. With commissioning of 800 MW Koldam project by National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), a lot of development has taken in Sunni area and both the BJP and the Congress are claiming credit for it.