Former deputy chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and senior Congress leader Mangat Ram Sharma has joined the People’s Democratic Party along with his son Subash Sharma, a trade union leader. The 84-year-old, “Panditji” to his supporters, joined the PDP in presence of former chief minister and party patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed at the latter’s home on Sunday.
The disgruntled Congress leader, who was sidelined by the party following his defeat in the 2009 assembly polls, told The Indian Express over phone from Kathua that he was sad to leave the Congress but had no option.
“The Congress has now become a party of the rich and the opportunistic,” Sharma said, and added people like him, who has worked for the party for six decades, have no place in it.
He said he has been assured that his son will be fielded from Kathua in the elections.
Sharma, who was deputy CM in Sayeed’s coalition government and then health and medical education minister in the Ghulam Nabi Azad government, used to be a government officer who, a year after being appointed block development officer in 1957, quit the job following a call from then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to join the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir.