The real test for Jai Ram Thakur begins now as he takes over the reigns of administration in Himachal Pradesh and opens a new chapter for the BJP.
A five-time MLA and former minister, Thakur, who has emerged the winner after the embarrassing defeat of the BJP’s CM face, Prem Kumar Dhumal, may have to prove his mettle early amid high expectations from the party and the people.
Thakur is the 13th CM of Himachal Pradesh and third of the BJP after Shanta Kumar, 83, and Dhumal, 73.
Shanta Kumar was the first non-Congress chief minister when he headed the Janata Party government in 1977. He became CM again in 1990, while Dhumal was CM twice in 1998 and then 2007.
Most people are happy with Thakur’s elevation as he comes from a humble background, is low profile and an organisation man.
Thakur has taken over the leadership from Dhumal and he may have to break into the dominating ‘caucus’ in BJP as well as bureaucratic circles.
BJP insiders said Thakur will have the backing of the central party leadership and RSS as he gets going.
However, the litmus test will be hid handling of the bureaucracy in Himachal Pradesh which is seen as showing personal, not administrative, loyalty for political bosses.
People also see a ray of hope in Thakur’s leadership as lately the state was stuck in the politics of vendetta, with personalised attacks ruling the roost at the cost of state interest.
The cabinet now has a younger look with six new faces, but the day to day administrative challenges are also many.
BJP insiders said he may have to post his own loyalists in power circles especially with the 2019 parliamentary polls not too far away.
“He is not carrying any baggage with him, being new. That’s an advantage in itself. He needs to start afresh in the government and streamline priorities. We are sure he will be able to do it, having got organisational as well administrative experience,” said some BJP seniors, who are happy with the ‘positive change’.