Richest nominee and CM's son sweats it out in debut poll in HP

Richest nominee and CM's son sweats it out in debut poll in HP

One man making his electoral debut at 27 years of age has earned the "pre-eminence" of being the richest candidate in fray for the Himachal Pradesh elections. But there's more that has generated curiosity.

The phenomenal rise in his wealth has been in the last five years - from about Rs 1.5 crore to a whopping Rs 84 crore - while his father and incumbent Chief Minister Virbhadra Singhheldoffice. The meteoric rise in his earnings may all be legitimate, yet it's enough fodder for the Opposition BJP to train guns at the debutant Vikramaditya Singh.

Sporting the green Himachali cap - considered a testimony of loyalty towards Virbhadra's clan - Vikramaditya walks distances with folded hands greeting people and seeking votes "in the name of his father". This seat, Shimla (Rural), has been his father's traditional stronghold.As crowds swell, Vikramaditya's demeanour gets even more humble. Garlands brim up to his chin and this heir apparent is the last one to crib. For the older voters, he bends his back even more, at times touching their feet.

Tough fight

The outcome of this assembly segment will denote beyond numbers or victory margins. It's the CM's son's debut poll and a lot is at stake for the erstwhile royal family. The CM has no qualms advocating dynasty politics. His wife Pratibha Singh has been an MP and now he has his son pledging to take forward his decades-old political legacy. But its a tough fight in this segment. The Congress faces anti-incumbency and a host of other issues - breakdown of law and order, corruption, mafia raj etc - that makes this seat arguably uncertain for the Congress.

Experts opine that if the Congress wins this seat, the margins will be less. The Congress nominee is pitted against Dr Pramod Sharma, a former civil servant who quit his job to take up teaching in HP university. He has earlier fought two elections as an independent.

Vikramaditya is dubbed a political greenhorn. But he rebuts, "This may be my first poll but I have been active in politics. My experience in the youth Congress as its president has helped me. Shimla Rural has seen much development. I have my task cut out." The BJP mocks at his development rhetoric.

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