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HP polls: Gandhi family's commando wins; cook's son loses

Source: PTI
December 28, 2007 18:08 IST
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It was a mixed bag for the Gandhi family in the Himachal Pradesh elections on Friday when a commando, who once guarded Sonia Gandhi, won but their cook's son lost in the BJP sweep.

Former Special Protection Group commando Nand Lal, who was nicknamed Sonia ka Santri (Sonia's guard), bagged the reserved Rampur seat for the Congress in Shimla district. Nand Lal was preferred by the Congress High Command over Horticulture Minister and six-time legislator Singhi Ram and he did not let the leadership down.

Lal, who quit as Deputy Inspector General (ITBP) two months ago to enter the electoral fray, beat BJP's Brij Lal by 6,000 votes.

But, there was nothing sweet for Prakash Chand Karad, who came third in Arki constituency at Solan district. Karad is the 37-year-old son of Padam Ram, who served as a cook with the Gandhi-Nehru family for over three decades.

Karad, who was the choice of 10 Janpath, elbowed out veteran Congress leader and Deputy Speaker Dharampal Thakur during the selection of candidates. He finished third behind the winner-- Govind Ram of BJP-- and Thakur, a sitting MLA who contested as an independent. Karad lagged behind the winner by over 13,000 votes and trailed Thakur by 6,912 votes.

However, unlike Thakur, six-time legislator Singhi Ram did not defy the Congress high command and stayed away from the elections.

Padam Ram of Banjan village in Solan district served as a cook first with late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, then with her son Rajiv Gandhi and later with Sonia Gandhi.

Ram was employed with the External Affairs ministry and had worked as a cook in the Nehru-Gandhi family since the 1970s. He retired five years ago but kept visiting 10, Janpath in New Delhi and got the ticket as an apparent reward for his loyalty.

When his son got the ticket, an elated Padam Ram had told PTI, "Even my father late Jhirku Ram had served as store-man at the residence of Nehruji. He supplied food items to the family for 35 years before I joined as the family cook during Indiraji's time."

Ram thanked the Gandhis for providing his son the opportunity to serve the Congress while his son expressed gratitude for getting a chance to fulfill his father's dream.

Karad, however, said he was not gate crashing into politics.

"I have been an active member of the Congress in Solan since 1995. I have served in the district Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe cell of the party, as director of the Khadi board and vice-chairman of the Sports Council," he said.

Thakur, who won the Arki seat in 1993, 1998 and 2003, and some local Congress leaders were peeved over the party ticket being given to a novice. The deputy speaker's son and Solan district Youth Congress general secretary Sanjay Thakur said his father filed his nomination under pressure from some party workers.

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