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26 December 2017, 01:45 | Katrina Lee
Jai Ram Thakur
The decision was taken at a meeting of BJP legislators, where Thakur's name was proposed by leaders Suresh Bhardwaj and Mahender Singh and seconded by other members. Finally, the party prevailed upon Dhumal to withdraw his name from the race on Saturday.
A big factor that went in favour of Thakur was that he hails from the influential Rajput community, which is also represented by the BJP's original CM candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal, who lost the polls from Sujanpur.
Speaking to reporters, Thakur said, "I thank everyone, central leadership, Prem Kumar Dhumal ji who proposed my name which was supported by JP Nadda, Shanta Kumar ji". Central observers had submitted a report after meeting state leaders and RSS leadership in Shimla earlier this week.
The BJP high command chose to finalise Thakur's name due to his closeness to the RSS, seniority, and a clean and non-controversial image. Since Jai Ram is only 52 years old, he will be able to lead BJP in the state for long.
Union minister J P Nadda was also said to have been in the running for the top office but sources said his name was just a red herring to keep Dhumal on the defensive.
Had Union health minister JP Nadda been party's choice, there was a possibility of Dhumal's MP son Anurag Thakur being inducted in the Narendra Modi cabinet at the Centre, it is learnt.
The doors were apparently shut for Dhumal and Nadda after the central BJP leaders concurred with the views of Kumar. It's also the first time an MLA from Mandi district - where the BJP won nine out of 10 seats this time, in its tally of 44 - will become chief minister. In the past too he had been an active member of the ABVP, student wing of the BJP. Mr Thakur was also the minister of rural development and panchayati raj from 2007-2012.
A soft-spoken man, Thakur's strength is that he is seen as a leader who has managed to straddle the BJP's warring factions in Himachal Pradesh.
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