Five-time legislator Jairam Thakur, who rose from the ranks and is known for his humble, low-profile stature, will be the 13th Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, the BJP announced on Sunday.
A decision in this regard was unanimously taken at the BJP Legislative Party meeting where central observers -- Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Singh Tomar were also present along with Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda and state party in-charge Mangal Pandey.
"Thakur was elected as the BJP legislature party leader in the (Himachal Pradesh) Assembly," Tomar told reporters, adding "no other proposal was made for any other candidate".
Thakur's name was proposed by two-time former Chief Minister P.K. Dhumal and seconded by Nadda and another two-time Chief Minister Shanta Kumar.
The Chief Minister-elect will meet state Governor Acharya Dev Vrat to formally stake the claim to form the government in the hill state.
In his first remarks after being elected as the BJP legislature party leader, Thakur thanked all party leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief Amit Shah, Nadda, Dhumal and Shanta Kumar.
"We will try to meet the expectations of the people of Himachal Pradesh. Our dream of a Congress-free Himachal Pradesh has been realised," Thakur told reporters.
The BJP took almost a week to decide on the Chief Minister candidate after after its Chief Ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal lost his election. Several names kept doing rounds for the past few days including Nadda, MLA Suresh Bharadwaj besides Dhumal and Thakur.
Thakur, is turning 53 on January 6, belongs to the Rajput community that has a significant presence in the state.
He won his fifth consecutive assembly election from Seraj, earlier known as Chirchot, in Mandi district, defeating Chet Ram of the Congress. He was a cabinet minister in the previous BJP government in the state led by Prem Kumar Dhumal from 2007 to 2012.
Thakur was known for his proximity with Nadda. He did his graduation from a college in Mandi town and postgraduation from Panjab University in Chandigarh.
"My son has seen extreme poverty in his childhood," his emotional octogenarian mother Biri Singh told reporters in her ancestral house in Tandi village in the interiors of Mandi district.
Thakur lost his maiden assembly election in 1993. He contested the assembly election in 1998 and since then consecutively won all the five assembly elections with a huge margin.
A senior party leader told IANS Thakur has "suitable credentials" for the post as he has been a member of ABVP, the student wing affiliated to BJP's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
The BJP wrested power in Himachal Pradesh from the Congress, winning close to two-thirds majority with 44 seats in the 68-member assembly.
Thakur emerged as a frontrunner for the post after Dhumal and state party chief Satpal Satti were defeated in the November 9 elections. The poll results were declared on December 18.
The Congress won 21 seats, with its Chief Ministerial candidate. Two seats were won by independents and one by the Communist Party of India-Marxist.
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