For HP ex-royalty, its blue-blood and sweat in polls

Kings and royalty are passé, but the “Raja Sahib culture” still continues in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh that goes to polls on November 4. Unlike celebrities, actors and sportspersons in politics, it’s the blue-blooded hopefuls, even their generation next, that are up against some of the formidable commoners in the poll fray.

Many of these former royals have devout following, something that has long guaranteed them a vote bank. At least six such descendants of the royal families of HP are geared up to fight the battle of the ballot once again.

But then, active politics is not about the frills and fancies of royalty, and all the six in the fray are sweating it out in dust and cold weather with the hope of making it to the cosy treasury benches.  

Interestingly, the ruling BJP in the state this time has preferred to keep the royal scions at bay. The saffron party hasn’t given a single ticked to them. But the Congress has four such royal descendants in its side, and why not? The party for long has been reposing faith in its “Raja Sahib” Virbhadra Singh, a descendent of the erstwhile Rampur Bushahr state.

Singh was crowned ‘King’ of his estate at the age of 13. His wife and former MP Pratibha Singh too has long lived the glory as the princess of the Keonthal state. Virbhadra’s son Rajkumar Vijramiduta Singh represents the generation next that is expected to carry the legacy forward, politically as well.  

The only royal which the saffron party had till early this year is now out of the BJP.
The 62-year-old Maheshwar Singh is a descendent of the Royal Kullu family and snapped ties with the BJP over a wide range of differences with CM Dhumal. Maheshwar Singh, who has remained an MP and was the state BJP president in the past, has floated a new party, Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP), which is in a poll pact with CPI and CPM.

Maheshwar said his party offers a plausible alternative to break the monopoly of the BJP and Congress. “At least I can now be a kingmaker if not a King anymore,” he said.  
Maheshwar may be opposed to the Congress and the BJP, but his younger brother Karan Singh is a Congress candidate from Banjar constituency in Kullu district.

Congress’ third royal in fray is a woman and former education minister Asha Kumari. She was born in a royal family of Madhya Pradesh and is married into the royal family of Chamba. She’s contesting as a Congress nominee from Dalhousie.

The Kasumpti constituency will witness two royals, one of the Congress and the other an independent, clash head on to grab the seat.

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