Tightrope walk ahead for Sukh Ram’s family

Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 18

Following the BJP's stand against dynastic politics, it will be a tightrope walk for the family of veteran Congress leader Sukh Ram.

It appears that Ashray Sharma, grandson of Sukh Ram, has abandoned plans to return to the BJP; his father Anil Sharma is Mandi Sadar MLA. The fact that Ashray remained silent for some time after being denied the Congress ticket for the Mandi Lok Sabha bypoll but now has started campaigning for Pratibha Singh is a clear indication that he has had a change of mind.

Son reconciles, father adamant

  • Anil Sharma had to give up his Cabinet berth when his son Ashray left the BJP after being denied the ticket for the 2019 Lok Sabha poll.
  • Anil Sharma is not campaigning for Brig Khushal Thakur while Ashray has campaigned for Pratibha Singh in the Balh segment in the past two days.

Seeing his silence there was speculation in political circles that he may join the BJP. The speculation gained ground as his father and BJP legislator Anil Sharma had said that it would be better for him and his son to be in the same party. However, the BJP denying the ticket to Chetan Bragta for the Jubbal-Kotkhai Assembly byelection due to the party's stand against dynastic politics seems to have made Ashray change his mind.

Ashray campaigned in the Balh Assembly segment in Mandi and other areas in the past two days. However, his father, despite being a BJP legislator, is not campaigning for Brig Khushal Thakur.

Anil had met Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur twice recently. He had to give up his Cabinet berth in the government when his son Ashray left the BJP after being denied the ticket for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He joined the Congress and was given the ticket.

It is learnt that Anil has told the Chief Minister that he was willing to campaign if he gets due honour and importance in the BJP. The Chief Minister has gone on record saying that Anil was seeking a ministerial berth, which was not possible considering there was no vacancy in the Cabinet. He had apprised the party top leadership in this regard.

Sources say that the possibility is that Anil will continue to remain in the BJP and it is towards the end of the next year, shortly before the Assembly elections, that he may also rejoin the Congress.

Sukh Ram, who was a powerful union minister in the Narasimha Rao government at the Centre, had considerable influence in Mandi district. He was instrumental in keeping the Congress out of power by floating his own political outfit Himachal Vikas Congress. However, Sukh Ram family's influence has declined with his son and grandson joining the BJP and then Ashray returning to the Congress. Being accused of indulging in politics of opportunism, the family does not hold so much of sway on people as was the case earlier.

However, the Chief Minister, whose reputation is at stake on his home turf of Mandi, will not like to take any chances. He seems to be keen on keeping Anil Sharma in good humour so that that BJP sails through.

Congress candidate Pratibha Singh has put up a formidable challenge to the BJP, riding high on the sympathy factor.

While Virbhadra Singh and his son Vikramaditya Singh had campaigned for Ashray Sharma in the 2019 parliamentary elections, now Ashray, too, is returning the favour, even if it is out of compulsion. It is no secret that Virbhadra and Sukh Ram never saw eye to eye and remained arch rivals despite being in the same party.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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