Mandi: Veteran Congress leader and former Union Minister Pandit Sukh Ram Sharma has passed away in AIIMS, Delhi, on Tuesday night.

He was on life a support system at AIIMS for the last two days after he had suffered a massive cardiac arrest.

Ashray Sharma, the grandson of Sukhram had confirmed the death of Sukhram by tweeting on his Facebook account early Wednesday morning “End of an era. Alvida Dada ji abi nhi bjegi phone ki ghanti (good by Dada ji, now the bell of your phone will not ring.”

He also shared a tribute video highlighting Sukh Ram’s contribution towards the country as well as the state.

On May 4, Sikh Ram, 94, suffered a brain stroke in Manali after which he was admitted to Mandi hospital. He was later airlifted to All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) New Delhi for further treatment.

Sukh Ram was born on July 27, 1927, in Kotli village, district Mandi. He belonged to a poor family and was one of the 10 siblings.

He studied law and practised as a lawyer at Mandi District Law Court.

Later on, he entered into politics after persuasion from the people and won with a large margin from Mandi.

During his entire political career, he was elected to HP Legislative Assembly five times and won the Lok Sabha elections three times. He was one of the most influential leaders of the state. He has been credited for bringing cows from Germany while being the state’s Animal Husbandry minister. This helped in boosting the income of farmers. He is also credited for bringing the telecommunication revolution in the country.

From 1963 till 1984, he represented Mandi Legislative Assembly. In 1984, he was elected to Lok Sabha and he served as a junior minister in Rajiv Gandhi led Union government.

He was expelled from INC after the telecom scam was exposed and in 1998, he formed his own regional party known as Himachal Vikas Congress.

In 2011, he was sentenced to five years under corruption charges in a telecom scam in 1996.

Later in his political career, he jumped with his son and grandson to BJP just before the 2017 Legislative Assembly elections. During this, his son Anil Sharma won elections from Mandi. Later in 2019, he and his grandson Aashray joined the Congress party just before the Lok Sabha elections. At that time, his grandson contested elections from the Mandi Parliamentary Constituency seat but lost.

His son Anil Sharma is also a politician. He has two grandsons; Aashray Sharma, a political and Aayush Sharma who is an actor who is married to Bollywood superstar Salman Khan’s sister Arpita Khan.

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Navneet Rathore is a Shimla based journalist having two-years of experience in the field of journalism. Navneet is a post-graduate in Journalism and Mass Communications from Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla and is specialised in crime, education, health, environment, agriculture and Horticulture beats.