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Congress Minister joins BJP in Himachal, another may follow
IANS
Last Updated : 15 Oct 2017 09:20:42 PM IST
Congress Minister joins BJP in Himachal, another may follow
Himachal Cabinet Minister Anil Sharma (ANI Photo)

 

Himachal Cabinet Minister Anil Sharma on Sunday resigned from the government and the ruling Congress and joined the opposition BJP along with his father and former Telecom Minister Sukh Ram.

 Even though an official announcement by the Bharatiya Janata Party on the matter was yet to be made, speculations were rife that senior Congress leader and Transport Minister G.S. Bali may also switch sides.

 

Anil Sharma said: "I have resigned from both the Congress and the government due to deliberate ignoring by the party. I and Pandit Sukh Ram ji were deliberately ignored at party Vice President Rahul Gandhi's Mandi rally." 

 

"Later, in the constitution of the election committees by the Congress central leadership, my name was missing," he told reporters in Mandi town, his home constituency.

 

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh later told media persons: "Anil Sharma is a junior leader. He and his father Sukh Ram formed the Himachal Vikas Congress and supported the Bharatiya Janata Party government in 1998. Their departure will not affect Congress's prospects in the November 9 elections." 

 

As rumours swirled about him, Bali said in a Facebook post: "People of Nagrota Bagwan (his constituency) are like my family and my relationship with you is emotional. I will be soon among you people. Will discuss things and then take any decision."

 

Hinting that Bali, a four-time legislator known for his flamboyance, was also likely to quit the Congress, the Chief Minister said: "The party will discuss the BJP's attempts at weaning away Congress members."

 

Anil Sharma was inducted into the Virbhadra Singh-led Cabinet in 2013 and allocated the portfolios of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj and Animal Husbandry. He was also a Minister of State from 1993-97.

 

A three-time legislator and a Rajya Sabha member, he is currently a legislator from Mandi.

 

Bollywood superstar Salman Khan's foster sister Arpita is married to Anil Sharma's son Aayush.

 

BJP leader and two-time Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has often hinted that Congress legislators were unhappy with Virbhadra Singh and were in touch with him.

 

While the Congress has named Virbhadra Singh, 83, as its chief ministerial candidate in case the party retains power, the BJP is still dithering. Dhumal and Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda are top contenders for party leadership in the hill state.

 

"There is too much confusion over who will lead the party in the assembly elections," a senior state BJP leader, who did not wish to be identified, told .

 

Elections to the 68-member Himachal Pradesh assembly will be held on November 9 and the votes counted on December 18.

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