Himachal Pradesh power minister Anil Sharma will not campaign against his son Aashray Sharma, who has been fielded by the Congress from the Mandi Lok Sabha seat.
Anil Sharma, son of former Union minister Sukh Ram, is the BJP MLA from Mandi Assembly constituency, which along with 16 other Assembly segments falls under Mandi parliamentary constituency. As an elected BJP legislator, he is expected to campaign in favour of party candidate Ramswaroop Sharma and against the Congress candidate.
“I have already conveyed it to the BJP leadership after my father Sukh Ram and my son rejoined Congress on March 25 that if Aashray is given a Congress ticket, I would not campaign against him,” Anil Sharma said.
State BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti sought to downplay the issue. asked, “Aap log kyo is mamle ke peeche parre hue ho? Ye unke parivaar ka mamla hai. (Why is media raking up this issue? This is matter of his (Anil Sharma’s) family”. Pressed further, he said, “We will see, what to do (on this issue).”
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The power minister, meanwhile, said he is “ready to campaign in favour of BJP candidates contesting on other seats”.
Anil Sharma, the Multi-Purpose Projects and Power Minister in the Jai Ram Thakur government, was a minister in the Virbhadra Singh-led Congress governments in 1993 and 2012. He along with father Sukh Ram and son Aashray had defected to the BJP ahead of the 2017 Assembly polls.
Sukh Ram was in talks with the BJP leadership to field Aashray from Mandi. However, BJP renominated the Mandi MP following which Sukh Ram and Aashray re-joined the Congress on March 25. They returned to the Congress after the party assured them of Aashray’s candidature from Mandi.
Prior to joining the BJP in 2017, Aashray, 33, was secretary in the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee. He is making his electoral debut and is likely to benefit from the clout that Sukh Ram wields in the constituency.
Apart from Aashray, the Congress late Friday named former state minister and Solan MLA Col Dhani Ram Shandil from Shimla (SC) seat. The party is yet to declare its candidates on the remaining two – Hamirpur and Kangra – seats.
Shandil, 78, was elected MP from Shimla in 1999 as a candidate of the Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC), a regional party formed by Sukh Ram. The party was later dissolved. Shandil retained the seat in 2004 as a Congress candidate. Between 2012-2017, he was the social justice and empowerment minister in the previous Congress government in the state.
Shandil will be contesting against BJP’s Suresh Kashyap, who had won the 2017 Assembly polls from the Pachhad (SC) seat. Solan and Pachhad, both, fall under Shimla Lok Sabha seat.
The Congress has replaced its candidates on both the seats.
Former chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s wife Pratibha Singh was the Congress nominee from Mandi in 2014 and was defeated with a margin of 39,856 votes by present BJP candidate Ramswaroop Sharma.