In what would be a big blow to Congress and Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, Rural Development minister Anil Sharma is set to join the BJP ahead of the assembly polls in the state next month.
In what would be a big blow to Congress and Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, Rural Development minister Anil Sharma is set to join the BJP ahead of the assembly polls in the state next month. Sharma who is the son of former Union Communication Minister Sukh Ram, had announced his decision to join the saffron party yesterday. However, the formal announcement about it will be made today. The minister in the Virbhadra government said he has been given a party ticket from Mandi. “I have been given BJP ticket from Mandi and the party has informed me about this,” he said, according to PTI.
Before leaving Congress, Sharma had alleged that he and his father were being sidelined and ignored in the Congress party. He had also alleged that the AICC General Secretary had invited Sukh Ram to attend the rally of Rahul Gandhi in Mandi but when he reached the spot, he was asked not to attend the rally. “Is Sukh Ram not a member of the Congress,” he asked. “I was not included in any of the committees for the assembly polls and when I asked about this from HPCC president, he said that my name was deleted at the higher level which hurt me and I decided to quit,” he said.
Sukh Ram had represented the Mandi seat from 1962 till November 1984, when he was elected to Lok Sabha and his protégé D.D.Thakur won the seat in 1985 while the BJP wrested the seat in 1990. Anil Sharma continued the legacy of his father and won from Mandi in the 1993 Assembly poll. However, after Sukh Ram’s name surfaced in the Telecom scam, he was expelled from the Congress and formed Himachal Vikas Congress which entered into a post-poll alliance with BJP and joined the government.
While Sukh Ram won from Mandi, Anil Sharma was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1998. In the 2003 Assembly polls, Sukh Ram was the sole HVC member to win the election from Mandi but he joined the Congress ahead of the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.