On Wednesday evening,as the palanquin carrying Lord Raghunath the ruling deity of Kullu makes its way to the towns Dhalpur ground,all eyes will be on Maheshwar Singh. The erstwhile Raja of Kullu will accompany the palanquin and will be performing many duties as the deitys first servant. But this time around,Singh will also be closely watched by the Election Commission,given that he is among those contesting the November 4 Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh.
The week-long renowned Kullu Dussehra festivities,organised by the district administration,begin on October 24 and lakhs of devotees from far-off places are expected to attend. The EC has warned parties against using the festivities as a platform for political campaigning.
With most of the rural voters assembled here,there is every chance of parties trying to misuse these celebrations, Deputy Commissioner Amandeep Garg told The Indian Express,adding that they had made elaborate arrangements to prevent this.
So the entire festivities will be videographed by three different teams deployed by the EC. Surveillance teams will also keep a watch on Maheshwar Singh 24×7 through the week till October 30,since he will be stationed near the deity on the Dhalpur ground for the period of the festivities.
A former BJP MP,Singh has floated a new party comprising mainly BJP rebels called the Himachal Lokhit Party and is contesting from Kullu.
The entire festival premises,comprising mainly open spaces around Dhalpur ground,have been divided into 10 sectors to be monitored by an executive magistrate each. While sub-divisional magistrates from various areas have performed this duty in previous years,the SDMs are currently caught up in election duties. Senior gazetted officers will function as executive magistrates.
Over 1,500 police personnel have already been deployed in and around Dhalpur.