Ram Swaroop Sharma, 60, the outgoing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh, on Wednesday filed his nomination papers for a second term.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Ram Swaroop Sharma defeated sitting Congress MP Pratibha Singh -- wife of six-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh -- by 39,796 votes.
This time, he is pitted against Congress candidate Ashray Sharma, 32, who recently parted ways with the BJP. Ashray Sharma is the grandson of former Telecommunications Minister Sukh Ram and this is his electoral debut.
Mandi, once a Congress bastion, is also seeing a battle of supremacy between Sukh Ram and Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur as both belong to the district.
As per his affidavit, Ram Swaroop Sharma and his wife Champa Sharma own assets worth Rs 28,33,538 and Rs 28,90,799 respectively. He also owns three cars, including a luxury sedan and has Rs 40,000 cash in hand, while his wife has Rs 50,000. No criminal case is pending against him.
Ram Swaroop Sharma's biggest achievement was his record in fund utilisation, which was much above the allocated amount. According to the fund utilisation figures of MPs between 2014-19, Ram Swaroop Sharma's unspent balance of the total allocated Rs 25.81 crore was just Rs 4 lakh, the lowest among the four state MPs.
"I allocated funds based on the local requirements and to create durable community assets with a focus on developing model villages under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana," Sharma told IANS.
Though his attendance in Parliament was 85 per cent, his participation in debates and in raising questions was fairly poor. He never moved a private member's bill during his tenure.
Mandi is one of the country's largest parliamentary constituencies comprising Kullu, Mandi and some areas of Chamba and Shimla districts, besides the tribal-dominated Assembly seats of Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti.
Voters in Himachal Pradesh's four Lok Sabha seats -- Shimla (reserved), Kangra, Hamirpur and Mandi -- will vote on May 19.
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