Lok Sabha elections 2019: Congress fields Sukh Ram’s grandson from Himachal’s Mandi
Shimla candidate Dhani Ram Shandil joined Indian Army in 1962 and retired as a Colonel. He was first elected to Lok Sabha as Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC) ticket in 1999 and then on a Congress ticket in 2009.
The Congress on Friday nominated former Union minister Sukh Ram’s grandson Aashray Sharma and Solan MLA Col Dhani Ram Shandil as its candidates from Mandi and Shimla Lok Sabha constituencies, respectively, in Himachal Pradesh.
The state has four Lok Sabha seats but the Congress central election committee has delayed the announcement of its candidates from Kangra and Hamirpur.
Sukh Ram and his grandson had returned to the Congress two days after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) denied party ticket to Ashray from Mandi.
The former Union minister, his son Anil Sharma, who is a cabinet minister in Jai Ram Thakur-led government in the state, and Ashray had joined the BJP ahead of 2017 assembly elections.
Anil Sharma, who had offered to quit the state government after his father and son joined the Congress, however, said he would continue to remain in the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The BJP has fielded sitting MP Ramswaroop Sharma from the seat.
In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Ramswaroop Sharma had defeated Congress candidate and former chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s wife Pratibha Singh.
Sukh Ram, considered the tallest Brahmin leader in Himachal Pradesh, is said to have then covertly supported Ram Swaroop.
Political observers in the state feel that the Congress has played a masterstroke by allotting ticket to Ashrey, as it would change the dynamics of politics in Mandi, where prestige of state chief minister Jai Ram Thakur is at stake.
Sukh Ram wields immense clout in Mandi and Ashray, a political greenhorn, is likely to benefit from it, they said.
Shandil, the candidate from Shimla (reserved) seat, had joined Indian Army in 1962 and retired as colonel.
He was first elected to Lok Sabha in 1999 on the ticket of Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC), a party floated by Sukh Ram.
He was re-elected on Congress ticket in 2004 after the Himachal Vikas Congress merged with the grand old party, but lost in 2009.
He shifted to state politics in 2012 and was elected to Himachal assembly in 2012 and re-elected in 2017.
Shandil also served as social justice minister in Virbhadra Singh government.