Shimla/New Delhi: Veteran Congress leader from Himachal Pradesh and former Union minister Sukh Ram died early Wednesday at a Delhi hospital. He was 94.
The Congress leader, who was airlifted and admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi on May 7 after suffering a brain stroke in Manali in Himachal Pradesh, died at the hospital at 1:35 am, hospital sources said.
Sukh Ram’s grandson Aashray Sharma said his body will be kept at Seri Manch in Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi to enable people to pay their last respects on Thursday.
“Goodbye grandfather, the phone won’t ring now (alvida dadajee, abhi nahi bajegee phone ki ghanti),” Sharma said in a Facebook post around 2 am on Wednesday.
In another post, Sharma said Sukh Ram’s body will reach his home city Mandi on Wednesday at 6 pm.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur expressed condolences over Sukh Ram’s demise.
In a tweet in Hindi, he said, “I am grief stricken to hear the news of death of former union minister and veteran leader from Mandi Pandit Sukh Ram Jee.”
His contribution to politics was very vital and will be always remembered, he added.
“May Ishwar provide place to his departed soul at His feet and his bereaved family get strength to bear the irreparable loss,” he added.
Thakur had on May 7 provided a state helicopter for airlifting the veteran political leader to Delhi for treatment.
Sukh Ram was the Union minister of state communications (independent charge) from 1993 to 1996. He was a member of the Lok Sabha from the Mandi constituency.
He won five assembly elections and was thrice elected to Lok Sabha.
In 2011, Sukh Ram was sentenced to five years imprisonment for corruption during his tenure as communications minister in 1996. His son Anil Sharma is a BJP MLA from Mandi.
Born on July 27,1927, Sukh Ram had represented the Mandi assembly seat from 1963 to 1984. During his tenure as state animal husbandry minister, he was credited with bringing cows from Germany which led to an increase in income of 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.
While Sukh Ram represented the Mandi Lok Sabha constituency, his son Anil Sharma contested and won the assembly seat in 1993. The Congress leader had won the Mandi Lok Sabha seat in 1996, but he and his son were expelled from the party after the telecom scam.
Subsequently, they floated the Himachal Vikas Congress Party, which entered into a post-poll alliance with the BJP and joined the government.
In 1998, Sukh Ram contested the assembly elections from Mandi Sadar and won by a huge margin. His son Anil Sharma was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1998.
Sukh Ram along with his grandson rejoined the Congress right before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to get a Congress ticket for Aashray Sharam but he could not win.
Sukh Ram’s other grandson Aayush Sharma is an actor and married to Bollywood superstar Salman Khan’s sister Arpita.