New Delhi: Pandit Sukh Ram, the former Telecom Minister and Congress stalwart leader from Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi passed away At 94. He was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) after he suffered a brain stroke. Sukh Ram’s grandson Aashray Sharma shared the news on Facebook.
Sharma in a Facebook post on late Tuesday night wrote, “Adieu Grandfather, Now phone will not ring (Alvida Dadajee, Abhi Nahi Bajegee Phone Ki Ghanti).” However, the post did not mention when he breathed his last.
Sharma posted several messages over his personal Facebook account mentioning the “end of an era”.
According to a press note shared by the former leader’s grandson, he (Sukh Ram) suffered a brain stroke on May 4 in Manali, following which he was admitted at the regional hospital in Mandi. From there he was airlifted to Delhi on Saturday for better treatment at AIIMS.
According to a PTI report, the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on May 7 provided a state helicopter for airlifting the veteran political leader to Delhi.
Who was Pandit Sukh Ram?
Sukh Ram was the Union Minister of State, Communications (Independent Charge) from 1993 to 1996 in the Narsimha Rao government. While the then government was taking steps for economic reforms, Sukh Ram introduced telephony to his hill state. He connected even the remotest villages in Himachal as several communication towers were installed despite its difficult topography.
Later, his name appeared in the Telecom scam during the Congress government and was later expelled from the party. In 2011, he was sentenced to five years of imprisonment on corruption charges when he was Communications Minister in 1996.
He was a member of Lok Sabha from the Mandi constituency of Himachal Pradesh. He won the Vidhan Sabha elections five times and the Lok Sabha elections thrice.
Sukh Ram’s son Anil Sharma is a BJP MLA from Mandi.
Sukh Ram represented the Mandi Assembly seat from 1963 to 1984 and reports say that during his term as the Animal Husbandry minister in Himachal Pradesh, he brought cows from Germany. This helped the state farmers and their income increased. which led to the increase in income of the state farmers.
He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1984 and served as a junior minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government.
Sukh Ram served as minister of state for defence production and supplies, planning and food and civil supplies. Sukh Ram was the Union minister of state (independent charge) holding the communications portfolio from 1993 to 1996.
While Sukh Ram represented the Mandi Lok Sabha constituency, his son Anil Sharma contested and won the Assembly seat in 1993.
Sukh Ram won the Mandi Lok Sabha seat in 1996, but he and his son were expelled from Congress after the telecom scam.
After leaving the Congress party, the father-son dup floated their own party ‘Himachal Vikas Congress party’, which entered into a post-poll alliance with the BJP and joined the government.
Sukh Ram again contested the assembly elections from Mandi Sadar in 1998 and won the polls by a huge margin. His son also got a Rajya Sabha seat the same year. In the 2003 Assembly poll, he retained the Mandi Assembly seat but rejoined Congress in the run-up to the 2004 Lok Sabha polls. His son Anil Sharma won the Mandi Assembly seat in 2007 and 2012 as a Congress candidate.
Prior to the 2017 Assembly elections, Sukh Ram again switched party and joined BJP along with his son Anil Sharma and grandson Aashray Sharma.
However, Sukh Ram along with his grandson Aashray Sharma rejoined Congress right before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to get a Congress ticket for Aashray but he could not win.
(with PTI inputs)