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Jairam Thakur,who represents Seraj, a constituency near Mandi, had earlier been the party’s state unit chief and a minister in a government headed by PK Dhumal.

SHIMLA:  Five-time legislator Jairam Thakur will be the new Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, BJP lawmakers decided today after a meeting to pick their chief, attended by the party’s Central observers Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Singh Tomar. He will take oath on December 27, the BJP has announced.

The legislators’ decision came a day after Prem Kumar Dhumal — whom the BJP had named as its prospective Chief Minister 10 days before the elections – pulled out of the race. The 73-year-old had lost the election to his Congress opponent and one-time protege Rajendra Rana, even though his party won 44 of the state’s 68 seats. But he remained in the race as several loyalists offered him their fresh-won seats.

It was Mr Dhumal who proposed the name of Jairam Thakur to be elected as the Legislature party leader, said said Mr Tomar, adding “Shanta Kumar-ji and JP Nadda ji also supported this proposal”.

“We will deliver the promises made and will work round the clock to ensure progress and development of Himachal Pradesh,” said Mr Thakur, who has been seen as a Chief Minister-in-waiting for a long time.

The 52-year-old, who represents Seraj, a constituency near Mandi, had earlier been the party’s state unit chief and a minister in a government headed by Mr Dhumal. During the counting of votes on Monday afternoon, as the trends showed Mr Dhumal was heading for defeat, he was the first off the block to take a flight to Delhi to meet the party’s central leadership.

But he was not the only contender for the state’s top job.

The buzz was that Union Health Minister JP Nadda, seen as an able organizer and a keen strategist who also has the ear of party chief Amit Shah, was also in the running. A member from the state’s Bilaspur parliamentary seat, Mr Nadda had moved out of the state unit to join the BJP in Delhi as its secretary after he fell out with Mr Dhumal.

Sources said today, the lawmakers decided at their meeting that the job should go to one of their own.

Mr Thakur’s supporters, however, said Amit Shah did announce at a public meeting on 1 November that the leader will be given a prominent role once BJP assumes power.

Considered a popular Thakur face, the lawmaker from Seraj constituency served as the BJP’s state chief between 2006 and 2009 and was credited with striking a balance between the warring factions.

 

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