Never thought I will be CM, says Jairam Thakur

Shimla: When in a sudden twist of fate, five-time MLA Jai Ram Thakur, 52, was picked by the Bharatiya Janata Party as the next Himachal chief minister, he looked as cool and composed as he has always been.
Like his supporters, Thakur never dreamt that he would be chief minister in 2017. “I never thought that I will reach here. I came from a very ordinary background. I was active in Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) from college days, but politics was not my objective. My parents wanted me to do a job after studies, due to family constraints. The family didn’t have enough income. But as destiny had it, the organization pushed me into electoral politics from Chachiot (now Seraj) in Mandi in 1993. And I kept contesting poll after poll from there,” Thakur told The Statesman in an interview. He will be sworn in as the state’s chief minister on Wednesday.
Thakur comes from the remote Thunag area in Mandi district. He lost his first election narrowly but won five consecutive polls after that from 1998 to 2017, in a constituency and a district which was always considered a Congress bastion.
He was appointed Himachal Pradesh BJP chief from 2006 to 2009 and this stint projected him as a ‘balanced leader’ in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s tricky politics. He later became Himachal’s minister for rural development in 2009-2012.
Besides, his low-profile approach, clean image, oratorical skills and an RSS backing have helped him emerge as ‘pleasant’ choice for the chief ministership after the two-time CM and BJP’s CM face for 2017 polls, Prem Kumar Dhumal, 73, lost in Sujanpur.
Before this turn of events, at a poll rally in Seraj, the party high command had dropped a hint that it was grooming Thakur for a bigger role. But none knew what was in store for him.
“BJP president Amit Shah had announced in my constituency that I have already remained an MLA and minister and if they elect me again, I would be given a bigger responsibility. I sensed that that since senior leader Dhumal was already declared as the CM face, I could be considered for the Deputy CM’s slot,” Thakur said.
Thakur won by over 11,000 votes and what took him closer to the coveted post was that for the first time, the BJP won nine out of 10 seats in Mandi district.
“He has struggled a lot. And even I never expected that he would be CM one day. But he is a silent worker. His honesty and patience have paid off,” said his pediatrician wife Dr. Sadhana Thakur.
She too comes from an RSS background, with her parents (originally from Karnataka) settled in Rajasthan. She is presently working with the Himachal Pradesh Health Services.
“His strength is his simplicity and teamwork. The chief ministership will be a challenge for him. But I know, with his capacity to take everyone along and his originality, he would be successful in the new role as well,” she said.

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