HP's ex-CM enjoys political clout

 The ensuing Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh on Sunday could be anybody’s game, but one constituency where the Congress is prepared to put its bet is Shimla rural.

It’s a constituency from where five-time chief minister and former Union minister Virbhadra Singh appears to enjoy an edge over his arch rival the BJP’s candidate Ishwar Rohal.

Interestingly, Virbhadra Singh is contesting the elections from here for the first time.
It’s a newly-carved out constituency seat for Singh after his traditional Rohru seat was reserved for an SC candidate following the delimitation process.

For a constituency next to the picturesque state capital Shimla, one will expect at least the basic infrastructure in place. Ironically, it’s a gravely underdeveloped segment with poor roads, vast stretches of barren land and feeble amenities of health and education. In fact, that is going to be advantageous for Virbhadra Singh.

Voters say irrespective of whether or not the Congress comes to power, this long ignored Shimla rural seat will gets its due attention. Virbhadra Singh is the CM-in-waiting, in case Congress wins.

The 62-year-old Ishwar Rohal is playing the son-of-soil card. He is the chairman of the block development committee of Mashobra and a local.

 Rohal says Vibhadra Singh has been changing constituencies since long and wants his son Vikramaditya to be the next Congress candidate from Shimla rural.

Adequate medical facilities too are lacking, said a Tottu resident, U S Kashyap. His party high command has yet again reposed trust in his leadership, in spite of the fact that he had to step down as Union minister after charges in the infamous CD case were framed against him. The loyalty Singh commands in the area overweighs his taint of corruption.

Shimla rural has 68,065 registered voters and seven candidates in poll fray. As campaigning was drawn to a close on Saturday, Singh has toured all the 68 Assembly segments in HP, which is why he was seen relatively less in his own constituency.
While Virbhadra Singh tours the state, Shimla rural is being taken care by his former MP wife Pratibha Singh and his apparent heir Vikramaditya.

“Virbhadra Singh is a CM candidate. No development has taken place in this segment. We hope there is some impact of having a CM-candidate from here,” said Rakesh Shandil of Jutogh.

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