Hard luck of Prem Kumar Dhumal, 73, Bharatiya Janata Party’s CM face for 2017 Assembly polls, paved the way for the rise of Jai Ram Thakur, who is now set to become the 13th CM of Himachal Pradesh.
After much confusion in the run up to CMship in last five days after poll results were declared on 18 December, Jai Ram Thakur’s name was cleared by party high command for the top post, looking at his age, five-time consecutive win and roots in the RSS.
The BJP in fact gave flip slop signals before the polls also, when it took much time to declare the name of two-time CM, Dhumal as its CM’s face.
Dhumal’s name was declared on 31st October, just nine days before polls on 9 November.
However, his defeat by 1919 votes by Congress party’s Rajinder Rana in Sujanpur upset his own calculations.
Not only this, most of senior loyalists of Dhumal, including Ravinder Singh Ravi, Gulab Singh and Randhir Sharma also lost the poll battle, which was another loss to the septuagenarian leader.
Four-time MLA in a row, Dhumal became the CM first time in 1998 and then in 2007 and has led the BJP to Assembly polls five times- 1998, 2003, 2007, 2012 and 2017.
BJP sources said the party high command had changed Dhumal’s constituency from Hamirpur to Sujanpur this time as the party thought it was on weak footing in Sujanpur and only Dhumal can win it.
This, however, turned embarrassing for the party, which won out rightly across the state getting 44 seats out of 68, but could not win in Sujanpur, despite fielding the CM face.
Thakur on the other hand won by over 11000 votes in Seraj in Mandi district.
“We are happy for the party. But Dhumal’s defeat has saddened everyone in BJP,” said state BJP chief, Satpal Singh Satti. Satti too lost the poll battle in Una.
Party insiders said immediately as the results were out, Jai Ram Thakur’s name cropped up from RSS circles.
Sources said during the sequence of events after 18 December, wherein Dhumal supporters vainly tried to push through former CM’s name despite defeat, giving numbers that 26 MLAs were with him, Union minister, JP Nadda’s name too surfaced for the top chair in state in the middle of different political equations.
This happened as Nadda’s name was being taken before polls also for the CM’s post.
But, with Prime Minister, Narendra Modi reportedly refusing to spare Nadda for the state in view of 2019 Parliament polls, Jai Ram finally walked victorious.
Sources said there was pressure within BJP too to have an MLA as CM to avoid the hassle of a by-election.
“It’s all fine. Whatever high command has done is acceptable to all,” said Satti.