Dharam Prakash Gupta
While the demand of Sukh Ram for a BJP ticket for his family member to contest next parliament election from Mandi constituency has started speculation in political circles in Mandi district, the buzz of BJP fielding CM’s wife Sadhana Thakur may checkmate Sukh Ram.
Mandi is home district of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and there is a rumor BJP fielding his wife Sadhna Thakur, a serving government doctor who may seek early retirement to contest the election. Sadhna Thakur had been a political activist and met the CM in the student movement. She is quite active and is often seen along with Jai Ram Thakur, now days.
There is no report of replacement of BJP’s sitting MP Ram Swaroop Sharma who had proved a giant killer by defeating Congress candidate Pratibha Singh ,wife of then Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh by a convincing margin of over 39000 votes in 2014 parliament election.
More so, BJP has consolidated its position in Mandi district after the last Assembly election by winning nine out of ten Assembly seats and installation of Jai Ram Thakur as Chief Minister of the state.
Sukh Ram, who had been living in political oblivion for quite sometime after his conviction by a Delhi court for alleged corruption charges pertaining to his tenure as a Union Telecommunication Minister, had suddenly come to limelight during the last Assembly election in the Himachal Pradesh, when he along with his son Anil Sharma, a cabinet minister in Virbhadra Singh government, had deserted the Congress and joined the BJP. Anil Sharma has been made a cabinet minister in present Jai Ram government too.
Sukh Ram, a veteran politician enjoyed power for several decades in various Congress governments in Himachal and at the Centre and has a strong mass base in Mandi parliament constituency and nursed the constituency as MP and Union Telecommunication Minister.
Sukh Ram had supported BJP after forming Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC) on his expulsion from the Congress on corruption charges and had helped the BJP to form first coalition BHP-HVC government in the state in a hung Assembly in 1998 election but later again returned back to Congress.
It is a fact; Sukh Ram has always propped up his family in politics. In 1985, when he was forced to contest parliament election unwillingly, he had managed a ticket for his son Anil Sharma from Mandi Assembly seat and also ensured a ministerial birth for him in Virbhadra Singh government, despite being a first time MLA.
Again, in lieu of rendering support of Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC) to BJP for forming an alliance government after his expulsion from Congress in 1998, he had secured Rajya Sabha nomination for Anil.
Nonagenarian, Sukh Ram’s demand of BJP ticket is aimed to provide a launching pad for his grand son Ashray Sharma, son of Anil Sharma, looking this as a best time to launch his grandson.
Claiming credit for BJP’s win in the last Assembly election Sukh Ram is ensuring BJP’s victory in all four parliament seats through his campaign for BJP, in return of a BJP ticket.
With changed political equation when Sukh Ram has little bargaining power, he is unlikely to find favour with BJP leadership. The BJP seems on strong footing and likely to contest the next parliament election in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and good work of Central and the state governments.