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HP: No contest for Virbhadra Singh

December 17, 2007 20:11 IST

Being part of Rampur-Bushashr princely state once ruled by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh's ancestors, poll result in Himachal Pradesh's Rohru Assembly seat was out the day he files his nomination.

Singh, who has won from this seat comfortably for the last four times and is in the fray for the fifth term, has a track record of not returning to the constituency for campaigning after filing nomination.

And he has done the same this time also. He has instead concentrated on rest of the state for the polls due on December 19 for the remaining 65 seats.

The people who feel happy over being part of the CM constituency has always "revered" him with votes. Singh had won with the largest vote margin in the state in the last Assembly poll from this seat.

With little hope for this seat, the BJP which is making a serious bid to come to power in the hill state, has again fielded its state general secretary Khusi Ram Balnatah, who has been losing to his high-profile opponent here since 1993.

Considered in the party circle as "sacrificial lamb", Balnatah apparently wanted to shift to Shimla this time but the party pushed him to same old battlefield.

"There is no contest in Rohru, Raja sahib will win again with huge margin," Lekhraj Tegta, panchayat samiti member of Rohru said.

But this could be Virbhadra Singh's last battle from this seat. As, if the recommendations of the delimitation commission are implemented from the next Lok Sabha elections, Rohru will become a reserved constituency.

Though BSP candidate Randhir Ranta and LJP's Goverdhan Singh Chauhan are also in the fray in this apple belt of Himachal, but their presence is insignificant.

Meanwhile, since Virbhadra Singh fought the first election from Rohru in 1990, the area has witnessed significant development.

Every panchayat of Rohru, a sub-division in Shimla district, has road connectivity now. The town has four colleges, including a college of pharmacy and a polytechnic.

Balnatah, who has the solace of increasing his vote in every poll, has been raising the issue of the state government not declaring Rohru a separate district, which has been a long-pending demand of the people.

He is also trying to cash "disappointment" among a section of the people of the area against the CM encouraging contractors.

 Because of the contractors, the people of the area do not have direct access to the CM on development issues, Kewal Singh, a resident of Rohru said.

Even during pro-BJP wave in 1998, Singh had won the seat with a huge margin. While the vote percentage of Singh in that poll was 80.91 per cent that of his rival Balnatah was 18.01 per cent of the total 71,215 votes approximately.

In the last state Assembly election in 2003 also, the gap between the traditional rivals on this seat was over 40 per cent.

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