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As son, father join Cong, Anil may lose cabinet post in HP

As son, father join Cong, Anil may lose cabinet post in HP

Shimla: Faced with a piquant situation at home after his son Ashray Sharma and father Sukh Ram, former telecom minister joined the Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, minister for power Anil Sharma is set to lose his cabinet post.

"I don't know why they did so. I have been trying to convince them against this (decision). There is no other option but to resign on moral grounds by post now," said Anil Sharma when contacted during the day.

Sharma said he has already briefed Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and also conveyed his helplessness to dissuade the duo from joining the Congress.

Anil Sharma had also defected from the Congress in 2017 when he was a cabinet minister. He joined the BJP, which also gave him a ticket from Mandi assembly constituency. He defeated Chamba Thakur, daughter of then cabinet minister Kaul Singh Thakur.

Jai Ram Thakur inducted Anil Sharma as minister for power and multi-purpose projects.

However now, it was the turn of his son to turn to the Congress after his demand for a BJP ticket from Mandi parliamentary constituency was not conceded by the party.

The BJP has fielded Ram Swaroop Sharma, a sitting MP from Mandi – which is also a native district of Jai Ram Thakur.

Annoyed over the BJP shutting the doors at him, Sukh Ram established contacts with Rahul Gandhi and expressed his desire to return to the Congress since he was already 92 years, and had a wish to launch political career of his grandson Ashray Sharma, elder brother of Aayush Sharma, who married film star Salman Khan's sister Aaprita.

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, when contacted, said Pandit Sukh Ram was not a member of the BJP and his return to the Congress was his personal matter. "Ashray Sharma had been lobbying of a BJP ticket for Lok Sabha but he too had never taken membership of the BJP. The party's prospects for the Lok Sabha polls will not get affected in any manner," he said admitting that Anil Sharma did indeed meet him on Monday morning to inform that Ashray Sharma and Pt Sukh Ram have decided to join the Congress.

During the day, both Sukh Ram and Ashray Sharma had reached Congress headquarters where they joined the Congress in presence of AICC in-charge Rajni Patil, PCC president Kuldeep Rathore and CLP leader Mukesh Agnihotri.

Later in the evening, the Congress insiders said Ashray Sharma's ticket for Mandi has been cleared, though a formal announcement will follow on March 30.

There are reports that the party wanted former CM Virbhadra Singh to fight from Mandi Lok Sabha which he had won in 2009 and became a minister in UPA-II. But he refused to contest and even his son Vikramaditya Singh, a Congress MLA, was also not prepared.

The Congress found an opportunity to give a jolt to the ruling BJP.

Sukh Ram was expelled from the Congress in 1996 after CBI raids and his arrest in telecom scam when Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister. He later joined the BJP-led coalition government in 1998. Yet, he had to quit the cabinet post after a CBI court framed charges against him.

He returned to the Congress in 2003-2004 but again went back to the BJP in 2017 before assembly polls, alleging humiliations in the hands of Virbhadra Singh. This is s second time he is back but with a motive to launch the political career of his grandson.

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