Jai Ram Thakur will be Himachal Pradesh’s new CM
A five time legislator, Jai Ram Thakur beat JP Nadda and PK Dhumal to become the next chief minister.Updated: Dec 24, 2017 22:29 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party picked five-time MLA Jai Ram Thakur as its legislature party leader in Himachal Pradesh on Sunday, effectively making him the state’s next chief minister.
The 52-year-old legislator for Seraj in Mandi district will be sworn in as the state’s 14th chief minister on December 27 in a grand ceremony that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah are expected to attend.
The announcement ended almost a week of speculation over the top job after the shock defeat of Prem Kumar Dhumal, the BJP’s candidate for the chief minister’s post, in the assembly elections. The party regained power in the hill state last Monday, winning 44 seats in the 68-member assembly.
“Former chief minister Dhumal proposed Thakur to be elected as the BJP legislature party leader. Shanta Kumar and JP Nadda supported the proposal,” said Union rural development minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who is overseeing the process with defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Union health minister Nadda and Thakur were among the top contenders after Dhumal’s defeat opened a race for the chief minister’s post. But former chief minister Dhumal was still in the reckoning until he opted out on Saturday.
“I hope we can all work for the development of the state collectively. We have requested Modiji and Amit Shahji, besides chief ministers of other states to attend our swearing-in,” Thakur said after thanking the people, the Prime Minister and the BJP chief.
He also thanked Dhumal for proposing his name. The chief minister-elect promised that his government will work for the state’s development.
“People of Himachal have given a strong mandate to the BJP. This victory has come with challenges and big responsibilities,” he said.
Governor Acharya Devvrat invited him to form the government after Thakur and state BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti met him at Raj Bhavan.
In Shimla, supporters danced, sang and beat drums after the Rajput leader’s name was announced. The atmosphere was equally festive in Mandi as he is the first leader from the state’s second most politically significant district to become chief minister. The BJP won nine of the 10 seats in Mandi this election.
No legislator from Mandi, a district with cultural affinity with Kangra and Kullu and topographic similarities with Shimla and Sirmaur districts, has ever become chief minister.
Thakur, a former state unit chief and rural development and panchayati raj minister in a government headed by Dhumal, is from a farming family of Mandi. He did his post-graduation from Panjab University in Chandigarh and decided to join politics when he was in his 20s.
He was associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological mentor, and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
A soft-spoken man, Thakur’s strength is that he is seen as a leader who has managed to straddle the party’s warring factions in the state.
“This is a happy moment for us. We have a young face that has risen from the ranks,” Nadda said after Thakur’s selection.
The party is believed to have favoured Thakur as he is an MLA and his appointment as chief minister will not necessitate a bypoll — unlike in the case of Nadda or Dhumal. Moreover, he is a Thakur, a community that makes up about half of Himachal’s population. Nadda is a Brahmin.
Perhaps most importantly, he is considered a clean politician, which is significant as the BJP made the investigations against outgoing chief minister Virbhadra Singh one of its leading poll planks.
(with agency inputs)
First Published: Dec 24, 2017 14:28 IST