Virbhadra's apathy may prove costly for Congress at Rohroo

Rampur(HP): Absence of union Steel minister Virbhadra Singh at filing of nomination by Congress candidate for Rohroo assembly seat apparently to show ire over denial of ticket to his wife on his home turf on Monday brought out differences within the party.

Sans Singh popularly known as "Raja Sahib" here, state Congress president Kaul Singh Thakur and others, filing of nomination by Congress greenhorn Manjit Singh Thakur for by-election to be held on November 7 was a lacklustre affair.

Singh, who had represented Rohroo for the last 19 years before moving to Delhi as a union minister, is reportedly keeping distance from the by-polls to express anger over denial of ticket to his wife Pratibha Singh referred to as "Rani Sahiba".

The veteran Congress leader was in Shimla for Diwali, but left for national capital yesterday on the pretext of some "prior engagements there".

"I had met Singh to seek his blessing and requested his presence during filing of nomination, but he said that he had some prior engagement and hence cannot be present," Manjit Singh Thakur said to a news agency.

Thakur, who applied for ticket at a later stage despite Rohroo block Congress committee recommending sole name of Pratibha Singh for the by-election, however, said, "He promised me to devote considerable time for campaigning."

Not only Singh, but also his supporters in Rohroo also kept distance from Thakur. Neither chief of Shimla rural Congress Vidya Sagar nor Rohroo block Congress general secretary Dinesh Chauhan joined the procession of party candidate to file nomination on Monday.

Chauhan instead claimed he and over two dozen other office bearers of the block Congress have tendered resignation over denial of ticket to Pratibha Singh.

The poor show of the Congress candidate could be gauged from the fact that while thousands used to accompany Singh during his nomination filing, the strength today was not more than 300, a Congress leader said.

Thakur was the first candidate to file nomination today for Rohroo seat and submitted his papers before BR Kamal, Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Rohroo.

Ruling BJP is fancying its chance to snatch the Rohroo seat from Congress by cashing on the 'disenchantment' of Singh's supporters.

The saffron party has fielded Khusi Ram Balnatah, who had been loosing to Singh in the assembly polls since 1993.

This is the last chance for Balnatah to register a victory from Rohroo, as the seat will become a reserved one from next election due to delimitation.

Bureau Report