Ex-minister Sukh Ram vows to spill beans in book

Shimla, Oct 23 (IANS) Former telecom minister Sukh Ram, 86, is all set to author a book that will "even expose" his political friends.

The six-time legislator and three-time MP says he is ready to pen the book once he is free from the criminal cases pending against him. "My only desire now is to pen my good and bad memoirs. Some of them will even expose my political friends (in the Congress) who backstabbed me by implicating false cases against me," Sukh Ram told IANS.

"Once the book is out they are going to lose their sleep. Its revelations will be lapped up by the media too," he said.

"But before concentrating on the book, I want to exonerate myself from all cases," said Sukh Ram who has almost retired from active politics spanning almost half a century.

The book will also share his memorable experiences of working with former prime ministers Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao.

Sukh Ram was minister of state for defence in the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1985. He had to resign as the communications minister in the Narasimha Rao government in 1996 in the wake of a financial scandal involving purchase of telecom equipment from a Hyderabad-based private firm.

He was granted interim bail by the apex court in January last year after he had surrendered before a trial court to serve his three-year sentence in the telecom scam case.

This was the third conviction of Sukh Ram on corruption charges.

The ailing former minister, who was here Monday to attend the golden jubilee celebrations of the state assembly, maintained that he was a victim of political conspiracy as some of his friends, who considered him to be a threat, were jealous of him.

"My fight will not end here (with acquittal of charges); it will end with penning of my maiden book," said Sukh Ram, who generally spends his winter in Noida in Uttar Pradesh.

In 1993, Sukh Ram, who was in the union ministry, was almost certain to become chief minister with the backing of Narasimha Rao.

But his then 'bete noire' Virbhadra Singh became chief minister for the third time as he had the support of a majority of the legislators.

The former minister, credited with ushering a telecom revolution in the country, belongs to Mandi town in Himachal Pradesh and commands influence in the area. His son Anil Sharma is a cabinet minister in the present state government led by Virbhadra Singh in his sixth stint.

Sharma, a legislator from Mandi, was minister of state from 1993 to 1997 also.

"I keep on evaluating the performance of my son in the government from media reports and independent feedback," Sukh Ram said.

Recently, Sharma's rural development and panchayati raj ministry was in the news that not a single penny was spent under the central government's Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) in first five months of this fiscal in over 300 panchayats in the state.

"I will definitely ask my son, when he will return to India from his private visit to the US, what steps his ministry has taken to make optimum use of MNREGA funds in those panchayats."

Interestingly, when the telecom scam came to light, Sukh Ram blamed certain Congress leaders who he said had conspired to frame him. He parted ways with the Congress in 1997 and floated regional political outfit Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC).

The HVC contested the 1998 and 2003 assembly elections. HVC won five seats in 1998 and only one seat in 2003.

In 2004, the Congress managed to bring back the HVC rebels into the party fold.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

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