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Jai Ram Thakur’s elevation: Beginning of new era for BJP, HP

Statesman News Service | Archana Phull | Updated :

Elevation of five-time MLA and former minister, Jai Ram Thakur, 52, as the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister on 27 December is seen as the beginning of a new era for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as the hill state.

In BJP, the ‘new face’ is set to break the lingering rift between two former BJP CMs, Prem Kumar Dhumal (73) and Shanta Kumar (83).

And it may take HP out of two-decade Virbhadra-Dhumal cycle, which got stuck into vendetta politics at the cost of state interest.

“With new and younger face, a new chapter will begin in BJP. The state will also progress with fresh energy,” said some senior BJP leaders, who were happy with the leadership transition.

Even though BJP high command hesitantly gave chance to former BJP CM, Prem Kumar Dhumal, 73, to make a come-back, by declaring him as CM face even in 2017 polls, the same couldn’t happen for he lost his own election.

So, the party had to go for new choice, which now comes as a pleasant development for all.

The BJP rank and file is happy across the state as Thakur not only comes from a humble background, but has roots in the organisation. He has worked with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and has roots in RSS.

In political circles, Thakur is known as a low profile leader, who has passed through the struggle to reach a point, having come from a poor family. That makes him all the more acceptable and capable to deliver with a new start.

For BJP, the memories of ‘Jwalamukhi episode’ of November 1997, which sowed the seeds of lingering Shanta-Dhumal rift with Nadda-Dhumal combination then gaining supremacy over former BJP CM, Shanta Kumar in state politics, may pass into oblivion.

The process in fact started just after Dhumal became CM in 1998 as Nadda was the first to fall apart, in simmering war of dominance and went closer to his original mentor Shanta again.

However, with Thakur coming to fore, the old combinations may not hold much significance, especially as Shanta and even Nadda (whose name was also doing the rounds) too were silently with him for top chair, for reasons known.

Party insiders said Thakur may still face challenges within the party, but then there is lot of hope.

He is seen as a rational face in BJP, who can do the balancing act. The BJP high command is so strong and he would enjoy full backing of RSS as well on the top chair,” said a senior BJP leader.

Congress needs to ponder over!

While the BJP has broken the image that its leadership belongs to merged areas by picking up its next CM from old Himachal (Mandi), its decision to bring in younger leadership is something that even Congress needs to ponder over in HP.

No doubt, six-time CM, Virbhadra Singh, 83, is the tallest and most popular Congress leader in HP, its high time the Congress party re-worked strategy to match BJP’s pick. While, for the Congress leadership, all there CMs, have come from old Himachal, two from Shimla since 1977. Virbhadra Singh has dominated the show in Congress since 1983, when he first became CM.