Himachal: Cong veteran Sukh Ram, minister son Anil Sharma to join BJP
This comes as a huge blow to chief minister Virbhadra Singh, just a week after he was declared as the party’s face for the polls scheduled for November 9.india Updated: Oct 15, 2017 10:20 IST
Ahead of the November 9 Himachal Pradesh elections, the Congress suffered a severe jolt with minister Anil Sharma and his father, former Union minister Sukh Ram, set to join the BJP. A formal announcement is expected in Delhi on Sunday in the presence of BJP chief Amit Shah, sources told HT.
This is a significant blow to CM Virbhadra Singh a week after he was declared the party’s face for the polls.
In a Facebook post whose screenshot was tweeted by BJP MP from Hamirpur, Anurag Thakur, Anil said he has resigned from the cabinet. He held the animal husbandry and panchyati raj portfolios. In that post, in Hindi, he said he “will try to fulfil Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dreams”.
Sukh Ram, once convicted in a scam related to telecom ministry that he held in the PV Narasimha Rao cabinet, has been unhappy over being sidelined by the Congress. He and Anil were absent at the public rally on their home turf Mandi when Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi declared Virbhadra as the CM face. While Anil that day was in Mandi, Sukh Ram and Anil’s son, Ashray Sharma, who is now likely to get a BJP ticket, had met Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi in Delhi.
Anil, a three-time MLA from Mandi and former Rajya Sabha member, earlier served as minister of state in the Virbhadra cabinet from 1993 to 1996 but resigned after his father was arrested. He then joined Himachal Vikas Congress floated by his father in 1997. The party merged with the Congress ahead of the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. It was amid protests within the party in 2014 that the Congress gave him the state ministry that he has now quit.