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Rakesh Singha to be first Himachal CPM MLA in 24 years: From student leader to convict to rights champion

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, is what Singha believes put him through a hard test

Written by Ashwani Sharma | Shimla |
Updated: December 20, 2017 4:22:28 am
Himachal Pradesh Assembly Elections, Himachal Pradesh Elections, Himachal Pradesh Election Results, Himachal Pradesh Poll Results, Himachal CPM MLA Rakesh Singha, Rakesh Singha, Indian Express, Indian Express News Rakesh Singha

Rakesh Singha’s victory from Theog marks the CPM’s entry into the Himachal Pradesh Assembly after almost 24 years. This will be Singha’s second term as MLA. His first term, after his election from Shimla in 1993, was cut short by a Supreme Court verdict disqualifying him. Singha, however, says he wants to forget the past and make the best of the current opportunity. Born in an orchardist family of Thanedar, in Shimla’s apple belt, the 60-year-old is a familiar face on the streets. He has been seen leading 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.

“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,” he tells The Indian Express. 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, is what Singha believes put him through a hard test. 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 unsuccessfully contested 2012 Assembly polls from Theog against 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 says.

Tikender Panwar, Shimla’s Deputy Mayor and CPM secretariat member, says, “Singha comes from a rich peasant family and he studied in a boarding school. Yet, he made an impressive contribution to seek protection of workers’ rights. Today hydro-power workers in the state are drawing the highest wages due to Singha’s efforts. Singha is now a very different man and will certainly be a good lawmaker.”

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