It’s not luck alone… It has been a silent journey from struggle to success and he has risen to the top step by step, albeit unknowingly.
That’s why when in a sudden twist of fortune, five-time MLA in a row, Jai Ram Thakur, 52, was picked up by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as next Himachal Chief Minister, he looked as cool and composed as he has always been.
Like his supporters, Thakur too 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, for family constraints. The family didn’t have enough income. But as the destiny had it, the organisation 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.
Thakur comes from a remote Thunag area in Mandi district. He lost the first election narrowly but won five consecutive polls after that (1998 to 2017) in a constituency and a district, which was always considered Congress bastion.
He was appointed Himachal Pradesh BJP chief from 2006 to 2009 and this stint actually projected him as a ‘balanced leader’ in tricky politics of BJP. He later became minister for rural development in HP from 2009-2012.
Besides this, his low profile approach, clean image, oratory skills and RSS backing have helped him emerge as ‘pleasant’ choice for Chief Ministership after two-time CM and BJP’s CM face for 2017 polls, Prem Kumar Dhumal, 73, lost his election in Sujanpur.
Before the turn of events, in a poll rally in Seraj, the party high command had dropped a hint to groom Thakur in 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 CM face, I could be considered for Deputy CM’s slot,” Thakur said.
Thakur won by over 11,000 votes and what took him closer to the coveted chair 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,” said his wife, Dr Sadhana Thakur.
A paediatrician by profession, Dr Sadhana too comes from RSS background, with her parents (originally from Karnataka) settled in Rajasthan. She is presently working with 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.
She said her husband doesn’t share much with her about his political plans and stress. “But I feel that anyone on this chair should be cautious in picking up a team and should constantly keep a watch on the people who surround him because of the important chair. Above all, he will have to deliver in time bound manner,” she said.