Factionalism has been triggered in the Himachal Pradesh unit of BJP following admission of Sukh Ram, who is considered as the ‘icon of corruption in India’, in the party on the eve of the assembly elections. His son, Anil Sharma, who was till now a minister in the Congress cabinet of Virbhadra Singh, has been fielded by the BJP on the Mandi assembly seat.Sukh Ram had become the icon of corruption when he was convicted by a court in connection with seizure of unaccounted money from his home while he was holding the communication portfolio in the union cabinet in 1996. The BJP leadership especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that had so far been swearing by “zero tolerance towards corruption” and had come to power on this slogan, suddenly abandoned the plank and has embraced Sukh Ram in the party.The CBI had seized cash amounting to about Rs.3 crores from his house when he was accused of having bypassed rules to benefit some private companies dealing with telecommunication equipment. He was sent to the Tihar jail on 28 September and before that he was suspended from the Congress on August 21.Interestingly, the BJP had raised lot of noise in the Parliament and Himachal Pradesh Assembly on the issue of the corruption taint of Sukh Ram and wanted strictest possible action against him in 1996. However, soon after that the BJP embraced him in March 1998 to form the government in HP with support of his 5 member Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC). The honeymoon between the two did not last long and he was thrown out of the alliance after his HVC was badly decimated with three of his legislators joining the BJP. Sukh Ram has been accusing Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh of fabricating corruption cases against him. However, the latter has denied the allegations.
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