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'King' vs 'Queen': Cong fields royal heavyweight against Kangana

By Bhanu P Lohumi
April 14, 2024 11:20 IST
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Historically, the Mandi constituency has favoured scions of erstwhile princely states, electing royals in 13 out of 19 elections, including two bypolls since 1952.

IMAGE: Vikramaditya Singh's late father Virbhadra Singh was the six-time chief minister of Himachal Pradesh and his mother Pratibha Singh is the sitting MP from Mandi. Photograph: Vikramaditya Singh on Facebook

The stage is set for a battle royale in Himachal Pradesh's Mandi Lok Sabha seat as the Congress has pitted state minister Vikramaditya Singh, the titular king of the erstwhile princely state of Bushahr, against Bharatiya Janata Party candidate and actor Kangana Ranaut.

Himachal Pradesh PWD Minister Vikramaditya Singh is the son of six-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh and Pratibha Singh, the sitting MP from Mandi and the Congress' state unit president.

Historically, the Mandi constituency has favoured scions of erstwhile princely states, electing royals in 13 out of 19 elections, including two bypolls since 1952.

Vikramaditya Singh, the two-time MLA from the Shimla (rural) assembly segment, is not new in the parliamentary constituency as his father and mother each won the seat thrice.

In the 2021 Lok Sabha bypoll to the seat, Singh had campaigned extensively for his mother.

Even before his candidature was announced, Vikramaditya Singh was involved in a spat with the actor-politician of Bollywood film Queen fame with neither pulling any punches. While Singh had termed Ranaut "queen of controversies", the BJP's Mandi candidate indirectly termed the state minister as "Chota Pappu".


Last Thursday, Ranaut launched a blistering attack on Vikramaditya Singh, and said, "Yeh tumhare baap-dada ki riyasat nahin hai, ke tum mujhe dara, dhamka ke vapis bhej doge (This is not the estate of your father or grandfather that you will threaten me and send me back).

The BJP candidate's retaliation came in response to Vikramaditya Singh's jibe a few days earlier about her reported comments over beef-eating.

"I pray to Lord Ram to give her wisdom and hope she goes back pure from 'Dev Bhoomi' Himachal to Bollywood because she will not win the elections as she knows nothing about the people of Himachal," Singh had said.

Indirectly dubbing Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Vikramaditya Singh as "Pappu", Kangana had said there is one "Bada Pappu" in Delhi and the "Chhota Pappu" in Himachal says she eats beef. She asked why he was not showing evidence of her consuming beef.

Terming Vikramaditya Singh as ek number ka jhootha (liar No. 1) and paltubaaz (one who repeatedly changes stance), she wondered what can be expected from him when "Bada Pappu" talks about destroying "Nari Shakti" (women power).

"I have made my name in the film industry without the help of my father and mother... I want to join politics and serve the people," she said and asserted that politics is an expression of service and anyone from a king to a beggar is entitled to that expression.

The factors working in favour of Ranaut are former Himachal Pradesh chief minister and senior BJP leader Jai Ram Thakur's hold over Mandi and that the party has won all the nine assembly segments under the parliament constituency.

BJP leader Khushal Thakur, a Kargil war hero who lost to Pratibha Singh by a margin of 7,490 votes in Lok Sabha bypolls held in November 2021, has rendered his support to Ranaut.

"There are over one lakh ex-servicemen in this Parliament constituency", he had told the PTI earlier.

Moreover, BJP leader and the titular king of Kullu Maheshwar Singh, who earlier opposed Ranaut's candidature, has extended his support to her.

Of the 17 assembly segments under the Mandi Lok Sabha seat, eight are reserved for Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled castes.

Since 1952, the parliamentary seat has been represented by Raj Kumai Amrit Kaur of Kapurthala dynasty and Raja Joginder Sen Bahadur of the princely state of Mandi once each, Raja Lalit Sen of Suket twice, Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh thrice each and Maheshwar Singh thrice.

Three-time MP from Mandi and former Union minister Sukh Ram, two-time winner Ram Swaroop and Ganga Singh were the exceptions and did not hail from royal families.

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Bhanu P Lohumi
Source: PTI© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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