SHIMLA: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Himachal Pradesh is gunning its own party leader, who resigned from the Jai Ram Thakur-led cabinet two days ago.
The BJP is asking its former Power Minister Anil Sharma to quit from the party over his love for his son.
Congress greenhorn Ashray Sharma, who learnt politics for years from his father Anil Sharma, is in the fray from the Mandi Lok Sabha seat. He is pitted against first-time BJP MP Ram Swaroop Sharma.
The father and son belong to the political dynasty of former Union Telecom Minister Sukh Ram, 91.
The BJP has raised the battle cry of dynastic politics.
BJP Chief Minister Thakur, who is leading the poll campaign, never forgets to tell voters that "his former Cabinet minister has love for 'putra' (son) Ashray Sharma and that is why he's not campaigning in Mandi for BJP candidate Ram Swaroop Sharma".
"If he has to remain in the party, he has to campaign for the party even from where his son is contesting," he said during public meetings.
BJP General Secretary Chander Mohan Thakur told IANS: "Anil Sharma should either rise above 'putra moh' or he should resign (from the party)."
Popularly known as 'Pandit-ji' in his bastion of Mandi, the six-time MLA and three-time MP Sukh Ram and his grandson Ashray Sharma rejoined the Congress on March 25 after quitting the BJP.
Countering its rivals, state Congress unit President Kuldeep Rathore told IANS that by fielding Anil Sharma's son from Mandi the party is trying to bowl out the BJP with a googly.
Political observers say the decision to nominate Anil Sharma's son is just a shrewd move by the Congress to push the ruling BJP onto a slippery wicket as Mandi is the home turf of Chief Minister Thakur.
Also Anil Sharma's father Sukh Ram played a crucial role in winning all 10 Assembly seats in Mandi district.
Taking a jibe at his rivals, Ashray Sharma said that "his father's soul is in the Congress while only the body is in the BJP".
At the launch of the Congress campaign, Anil Sharma announced that he would campaign for his party but not against his son.
He resigned from the cabinet on April 12 but has not quit either from the BJP or from the state Assembly.
Himachal Pradesh will vote in its four Lok Sabha seats -- Shimla (reserved), Kangra, Hamirpur and Mandi -- on May 19.