Richest nominee sweats it out in HP

One man, making his electoral debut at the age of27, has earned the "pre-eminence" of being the richest candidate in thefray for the Himachal Pradesh polls.

But there's more that has generated curiosity.

The phenomenal rise in debutant Vikramaditya Singh'swealth has been overthe past 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 is enough fodder for the Opposition BJP to train guns onVikramaditya.

Sporting the green Himachali cap, considered 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. With garlands up to his chin, this heir apparent is the last one to crib. For the older voters, he bends even more, at times touching their feet.

Vikramaditya is dubbed as 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."

Tough fight

The outcome of this Assembly segment will gobeyond numbers or victory margins as alot is at stake for the erstwhile royal family.

The chief ministerhas 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, ranging from the breakdown of law and order, corruption and
mafia raj,whichmakes this seat arguably uncertain for the party.

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 the Himachal Pradesh University. He has earlier fought two elections as an independent.

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