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Linked by blood, separated on political lines

Linked by blood, separated on political lines
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They are connected by family ties but separated politically. As the May 19 polling for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections nears, a father and his...

They are connected by family ties but separated politically. As the May 19 polling for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections nears, a father and his son may take on each other's political parties, but they have promised not to get personal.

Congress greenhorn Ashray Sharma, who learnt politics for years from his father Anil Sharma, a Cabinet Minister in the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) State government, is in the fray from Mandi Lok Sabha seat. He is pitted against BJP's first-time MP Ram Swaroop Sharma.

The father and son belong to the political dynasty of former Union Telecom Minister Sukh Ram, 91.

Popularly known as Panditji in his bastion of Mandi, six-time MLA and three-time MP Sukh Ram and his grandson Ashray Sharma rejoined the Congress on March 25 after quitting the BJP.

At the launch of the Congress campaign, the BJP leader Anil Sharma announced that he would campaign for his party but not against his son.

But as a party worker, he would campaign for BJP candidates in other constituencies.

Not agreeing with the Minister, Chief Minister Thakur was categorical that Anil Sharma was a BJP leader and he has to campaign for the party even in Mandi.

Taking a jibe at his rivals, Ashray Sharma said "his father's soul is in the Congress while only the body is in the BJP".

In the campaign, his grandfather Sukh Ram is leaving no stone unturned to wrest Mandi from the BJP. Political observers say Ashray Sharma is also cashing in on the legacy of his father Anil Sharma. Anil Sharma, a MLA from Mandi, was a Minister in the state in 1993-97 and in 2012-17.

The Sukh Ram family joined the BJP just before the 2017 Assembly polls, with the former Minister saying he was being constantly humiliated by Virbhadra Singh.

State BJP General Secretary Chander Mohan Thakur has asked Anil Sharma to clarify whether or not he would campaign for the party in Mandi.

The Mandi Lok Sabha seat has been a traditional Congress bastion and it lost it for the first time in 1977.

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