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Posted at: Apr 21, 2019, 7:02 AM; last updated: Apr 21, 2019, 8:57 AM (IST)

Will bonhomie between sons bring titans Virbhadra, Sukh Ram closer?

Vikramaditya to share dais with Ashray at 5 meetings in Kullu today
Will bonhomie between sons bring titans Virbhadra, Sukh Ram closer?
Vikramaditya Singh, MLA

Pratibha Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, April 20

Could the new-found bonhomie between Mandi Congress candidate Ashray Sharma and Shimla (Rural) MLA Vikramaditya Singh put an end to the decades old rivalry between the two political giants - Virbhadra Singh and Sukh Ram?

Even though political analysts doubt if the two, who have been political foes for decades, have buried the hatchet but the fact that both Ashray and Vikramaditya will address five election meetings in Kullu tomorrow have generated hope among party leaders. Their bonhomie could spell trouble for BJP candidate Ram Swaroop.

Virbhadra’s son will share the dais with Ashray at Charod Nullah, Chong, Chinjra, Barshaini and Kasol. Moreover, Virbhadra is likely to be present at the filing of nomination by Ashray in Mandi on April 25 so that a signal goes out that the Congress is united.

“Let bygones be bygones. We are making a fresh beginning to fight the communal forces and ensure the Congress victory,” said Vikramaditya Singh on his campaigning for Ashray. His mother Pratibha Singh had lost the 2014 election from Mandi by 39,000 votes when Virbhadra and Sukh Ram were not on the best of terms.

Though Virbhadra had welcomed Sukh Ram and his grandson’s return into the Congress, it was the common knowledge that he was not happy with the decision to give Congress ticket to Ashray. There was skepticism if the former chief minister would campaign in Mandi from where he had won three Lok Sabha elections in 1971, 1980 and 2009. Sukh Ram too had won three parliamentary polls from Mandi in 1984, 1991 and1996.

Both families have a close association with Mandi as Virbahdra’s wife Pratibha Singh won two elections from here in 2004 and 2013 but lost the 2014 election to Ram Swaroop while her husband was the Chief Minister. In fact, the Congress was keen to field Virbhadra or his son from Mandi this time, though both declined and later the party opened its door to Sukh Ram and his grandson.

Virbhadra still holds sway over voters not only in the three tribal belts of Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Bharmour, but also Rampur and other segments of Mandi district. Sukh Ram has taken a big risk by returning to the Congress fold and his son Anil Sharma losing his ministership in the process. Now, it remains to be seen how seriously Virbhadra and his son work for Ashray’s victory.

Ex-CM may accompany Mandi nominee

  • Virbhadra is likely to be present at the filing of nomination by Ashray in Mandi on April 25 so that a signal goes out that the Congress is united.
  • He still holds sway over voters not only in the three tribal belts of Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Bharmour, but also Rampur and other segments of Mandi district.

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