Three-time winner from Mandi and a Rajya Sabha member, Anil Sharma has joined the BJP.
"Sidelined and ignored" by the Congress leadership, Himachal Pradesh Rural Development minister Anil Sharma has quit the party to join the BJP. The shocker came just a few weeks ahead of the Assembly polls. While announcing his decision on Facebook, he said he wants to contribute to fulfil Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dream of a "new and corruption-free India".
His father, former Union Minister Sukh Ram, has also joined the BJP. A formal announcement in this regard will be made in Delhi today. Top BJP leaders are expected to welcome them into the fold.
After Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh's sister-in-law Jyoti Sen and brothers-in-law Veer Vikram Sen and Prithvi Vikram Sen joined the BJP this week, his resignation will be a huge setback for the Congress-led government in the state. However, downplaying the switch, Mr Singh said, "I'm not at all surprised. I knew they're contemplating this. It doesn't matter if they've gone."
Three-time winner from Mandi and a Rajya Sabha member, Mr Sharma is miffed as his father was allegedly barred from attending Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's rally in Mandi on October 7, which was organised to kick-start his party's campaign for the state polls.
"Is Sukh Ram not a member of the Congress?" he asked. He also claimed to have not been included in any of the committees in the run-up to the Assembly polls.
Himachal Pradesh goes to polls on November 9 to elect its new 68-member assembly and votes will be counted on December 18. The Congress had won 36 seats and the BJP 27 in the last assembly elections. Independent candidates had got five seats.
The Mandi seat was represented by Sukh Ram from 1962 till November 1984, when he was elected to Lok Sabha. His protege DD Thakur won the seat in 1985 while the BJP wrested the seat in 1990. Anil Sharma got the seat back in 1993 Assembly poll. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1998. After repeating his win from Mandi in 2007 and 2012 as a Congress candidate, he is set to contest as a BJP candidate this time. His younger son Aayush is married to actor Salman Khan's sister Arpita.