Shimla: Five-time MLA Jai Ram Thakur will be the 14th chief minister of Himachal Pradesh and will be sworn-in on 27 December at a star-studded ceremony attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah among others.
The 52-year-old Thakur leader edged past party stalwarts in the race to the top office and will be the first leader from the politically-significant Mandi region to helm the hill state.
Thanking the party leadership and workers after his election Thakur said that swearing in ceremony would take place on 27 December.
Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who along with Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman was appointed as a central observer by the BJP, announced that Thakur was chosen to be the next chief minister as thousands of party workers began celebrating.
The Seraj MLA, a through bred RSS man, emerged as the frontrunner for the top post after the shock defeat of BJP’s chief ministerial face Prem Kumar Dhumal in the state Assembly polls, the results of which were announced last week.
Thakur, a former state unit chief and rural development and panchayati raj minister in a government headed by Dhumal, was elected the leader of the BJP legislature party today.
His name was proposed by senior leaders Suresh Bhardwaj and Mahender Singh and seconded by others.
“It is expected that Thakur will take oath as the state’s next CM on 27 December at a ceremony where Prime Minister Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and a galaxy of top leaders would be present,” a source said.
Thakur along with senior party leaders handed a letter staking his claim to form the government in Himachal Pradesh to Governor Acharya Devvrat who invited him to do so.
Seen largely as a low-profile man, Thakur 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.
Thakur contested on a BJP ticket in the 1993 Assembly polls. He lost, but went on to win in 1998 from the now delimited constituency of Chachiot (Seraj) and every Assembly election after that.
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.
The BJP ousted the Congress from power by winning 44 out of the 68 seats in the Assembly polls.