In a jolt to Congress party ahead of Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh, former Union minister, Sukh Ram and his son, Anil Sharma, a minister in Virbhadra government in Himachal Pradesh,  joined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

A formal announcement by the party in this regard is yet awaited, BJP Vice President in Himachal, Ganesh Dutt confirmed the development.

Despite telecom scam, octogenarian Sukh Ram wields personal influence in Mandi district for his grassroot approach in politics. He represented Mandi seat seven times in the state Assembly and he was elected Lok Sabha MP twice from Mandi.

Anil Sharma, Panchayati Raj and Animal Husbandry minister in Congress government, is three-time MLA from Mandi Assembly segment and a former Rajya Sabha member.

Sharma said he had resigned from the cabinet and had joined BJP. He alleged that he and his father (such Ram) were being sidelined in Congress party.

“I was not included in any of the committees for the assembly polls and when I asked the HPCC President about this, he said my name was there and it was deleted at highest of levels,” Sharma told media persons.

Sharma is likely to be the BJP’s choice for Mandi Assembly seat, despite the fact that the local BJP unit had been protesting against Sharma on different issues and he even figured in the BJP’s chargesheet against Congress government.

It is pertinent to mention that Sukh Ram was earlier instrumental in ousting Congress from power in 1998 through a post poll alliance of his Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC) with BJP in tight number game.

The Congress veteran has been an arch rival of Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh. He put up a strong challenge to Singh in 1993 Assembly polls for CM’s chair, but lost the number game.

After telecom scam in mid nineties, however, when he had to quit Congress, he launched his own party, HVC, which got five seats in 1998 Assembly polls. The HVC merged with Congress after 2003 polls, when it got just one seat.