Former Union Communication Minister and one of the stalwarts of Congress politics in Himachal Pradesh, Pandit Sukh Ram (95) passed away in All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) New Delhi at about 1.30 am last night.
According to his family sources, “Pandit Sukh Ram breathed his last at about 1.30 am in the AIIMS ; his body would be brought to Mandi on Wednesday for cremation.”
The veteran leader, who was in Manali with his daughter , had suffered a brain stroke and was brought to Zonal Hospital Mandi , from where he was airlifted to New Delhi in a state government helicopter on Thursday last.
Pandit Sukh, considered the main man behind the telecommunication revolution in the country, had represented Mandi Assembly Constituency for seven terms, remained Mandi MP for three terms and held important portfolios in the State and Union Cabinets .
He and former six time CM Virbhadra Singh remained political rivals in the state Congress for long but despite being a strong contender for the CM’s post Sukh Ram could not become HP CM. After the 1993 Assembly election Sukh Ram was almost certain to become the state CM but Virbhadra Singh again outsmarted him.
After being booked by CBI in an alleged telecommunication scandal Sukh Ram was expelled from the Congress in 1996 and he formed his own political party Himachal Vikas Congress.After the 1998 Assembly election , in a hung assembly his party played a pivotal role in installation of BJP – HVC alliance government to keep Virbhadra Singh out of power .
Later, he again joined back Congress but again left it to join BJP before the 2017 Assembly election along with his minister son Anil Sharma. During the 2019 parliament election he left BJP and joined Congress again and managed a Congress ticket for his grandson Ashrey Sharma from Mandi parliament constituency. Though he remained quite active in politics till his last years, but court cases marred his political career.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, several Congress leaders among others have sent their condolence messages on the passing away of Pandit Sukh Ram.