On the last day of campaigning, travelling between rallies in a car because a fund crunch means he cannot afford a chopper, Virbhadra Singh told NDTV that he did not set out to be a politician. A member of a former Royal family - "I was the ruling prince at 11, when my father died," he says - he wanted to be a professor, but was persuaded by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to contest elections 55 years ago.
"I was never interested in politics. At 25 I was asked to drop my aspirations of being a professor and dedicate my life in service of the nation," Mr Singh said. The year was 1962 and Virbhadra Singh got a phone call that would change his life. Lal Bahadur Shastri, who was then a cabinet minister and would later be Prime Minister, was calling.
His son, Vikramaditya is 25 now and is contesting his first election from Shimla Rural. He has been eager to enter politics, Vikramaditya said, unlike his father who he called a "reluctant politician."
As the chief minister's car passes malls and traffic lights, people stop to bow in respect.
"The PM has been hitting below the belt. Atal Bihari was a statesman, but Modi has no shame or grace. BJP is using vendetta against me. I am not a village man, I come from an illustrious family. They keep saying I am corrupt, I want to tell them I have no reason to be," the chief minister said.
Virbhadra Singh has been chief minister of Himachal Pradesh six times and a union minister before that. He first became chief minister in 1983 and has since 1993, alternated in the post with the BKP's PK Dhumal, who is the rival party's pick for presumptive chief minister this time too.
"I have enough to fight elections, but nothing to match the kind of money the BJP has thrown into this election, for them money in no limit. But I don't think pahari people are up for sale," Mr Singh says.