Maheshwar’s return strengthens BJP in Kullu

Kullu, Oct 27: Arch-rivals Maheshwar Singh, sitting MLA from Kullu (Sadar), and Congress’ Sunder Singh Thakur are once again engaged in a bitter battle for political supremacy from the constituency, the only difference this time being the former is contesting on the BJP ticket.

Maheshwar, Kullu royal family scion, recently rejoined the BJP, a party he had quit ahead of the 2012 Assembly elections after floating his own outfit, Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP). He was the lone candidate from the HLP who made it successfully to the Vidhan Sabha, defeating BJP’s Ram Singh by a margin of 2,985 votes.

Though Sunder, Congress state general secretary, was pushed to the third spot, his party has again shown faith in him. Being a descendant of the erstwhile rulers of Kullu and ‘Chharibardar’ (chief caretaker) of Lord Raghunath, chief deity of Kullu, Maheshwar wields good influence among voters. A political analyst says due to his religious as well as social connect, Maheshwar enjoys the edge over his rivals as most of the villagers associated with the deities have strong faith in Lord Raghunath’s ‘Chharibardar’.

Sunder, who enjoys good ties with Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, has strived to build his image over the past five years by bringing in various development projects. Former Minister Satya Prakash Thakur, whose wife had contested as a Congress rebel in 2012, has kept himself aloof from the election scene this time and is working for the Congress nominee from Banjar. Rashtriya Azad Manch candidate and Congress rebel Renuka Dogra and two other independents are also in the fray, but their presence is being considered insignificant.

Being an internationally famed tourist destination, tourism is the mainstay of the people who feel little has been done to increase employment opportunities. They rue that despite so many power projects being executed in the area, locals have been ignored in jobs. Moreover, haphazard constructions have damaged the ecology of the area, they add.

Brijesh, a resident, says the government has failed to provide adequate compensation to those affected by the four-laning of the national highway. Rajeev, a shopkeeper, complains that no major improvement has been witnessed in civic amenities in Kullu during the last regime.

Another resident, Rahul, says that despite tall claims by the government, water supply even in Kullu and Bhuntar towns is inadequate, leave aside the plight of rural areas.

Some residents say shortage of doctors in Kullu hospital is another cause for concern. The traffic congestion resulting due to manifold increase in the number of vehicles has also become a major problem.

Source Tribune India