While BJP and Congress made all the headlines as Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly Elections came out, one man, who managed to hog limelight, is Rakesh Singha. Singha had won from Theog constituency and ensured the CPM’s entry into the Himachal Pradesh Assembly after almost 24 years. However, this is not the first time that Singha has managed to win an election in the hill state. He had won election from Shimla in 1993. However, Supreme Court had disqualified him then. “My revolutionary leanings are due to my commitment to certain ideas, which I practice. These are neither acquired nor influenced. I am a man of my words and thoughts,” Singha said.
The 60-year-old was born in an orchardist family of Thanedar, in Shimla’s apple belt. He is known as hardcore-protester. He has led demonstrations by hotel workers, daily wagers, hydro-power project labourers and farmers. He is also seen going to court to fight cases filed against him by the government and power project promoters.
Singha began his political career as a student leader in Himachal Pradesh University. His involvement in a murder case during his university days in 1978, and conviction in 1987 hit the headlines back then.
The Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s conviction, unseating him from the Assembly. After serving his jail term, Singha rebuilt his image and fought for workers and labourers. He carved out a place in CITU and fought for farmers from the platform of Himachal Kisan Union.
He contested in the 2012 Assembly polls from Theog but lost to Vidya Stokes. “But I devoted these five years to farmers and weaker classes in Theog. Then came the Kotkhai rape and murder case. My struggle for justice for the victims’ parents forced the government to concede to the demand for a CBI probe. But I have to revive the agitation as CBI failed to nab the culprits,” he said
Notably, Union minister J P Nadda and five-term MLA Jairam Thakur are being seen as front-runners for the chief minister’s post in Himachal Pradesh, while incumbent Vijay Rupani is the favourite in Gujarat but speculation continues over his fate after the BJP’s subdued performance. The shock defeat of BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal has thrown open the leadership race in Himachal Pradesh and brought back Health Minister Nadda into contention.
Nadda’s proximity to the party top brass is seen as a big plus for him even though some party leaders believe that the the BJP’s central leadership may finally choose the chief minister from among the MLAs. Jairam Thakur, a five-term MLA, and some other senior BJP lawmakers in the state, including Mohinder Singh, who won for a seventh time, five-term MLA Rajiv Bindal, former state BJP chief Suresh Bharadwaj, and Krishan Kapoor, both elected for a fourth term could also be considered.
Sources said the party opt for a Thakur leader, the dominant community in the hill state. Nadda is a Brahmin. Some in the state party unit continue to bat for Dhumal despite his defeat, with Varinder Kanwar, the MLA from Kutlehar, even offering to vacate his seat for him. The BJP has 44 seats in the 68-member Assembly.