Updated: December 20, 2017 4:02:14 am
Known as the BJP’s gentle face, given his non-aggressive style of politics, Jairam Thakur, a fifth-time MLA, is the archetypal party worker even as he is being seen as the party’s chief ministerial probable for Himachal Pradesh. Denying he is a contender or aspirant for the chief minister’s post, after former chief minister and projected candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal’s defeat in the Assembly polls, Thakur, 52, on Tuesday said he is ready to do whatever is assigned to him by the party. “I have no ambitions. I will be ready to work on whatever the party assigns to me,” said the MLA from Seraj, in the hill state’s Mandi district. “The party’s victory in the election comes with a lot of responsibility.”
Having joined the Sangh Parivar as a “whole-timer” of ABVP right after graduation, the soft-spoken Thakur has covered a long, laborious journey from Tandi village, near Thunag in remote Seraj area of Mandi, to reach the position he finds himself in today: elected as an MLA for his fifth consecutive term, without any “godfather” in politics, and being a CM probable. Coming from a humble background, Thakur is neither an activist nor an aggressive politician, yet his voice hardly goes unheard — either in party forums or in the state Assembly.
“My childhood was like any other village lad’s. My parents worked in the fields, and for us (three brothers and two sisters) life was not a luxury due to our father’s limited earning. I did primary schooling in my village, and went to a school in a village nearby for middle school,” Thakur recalled. After matriculation in 1980, he had to drop out for two years before joining college. “I realised my parents could not have afforded my college education, so I did not force them to. I used to work with my parents and helped augment the family income until I managed to collect money for college,” Thakur said.
He got admission in an evening college in Mandi. Local residents said he worked during the day and went for classes in the evenings — and also got introduced to student politics. Thakur soon joined ABVP, the RSS’s students’ wing, and by the time he graduated, he had decided to become an ABVP whole-timer. “I was sent to Jammu for the organisation, and worked there for three or four years.” This was the time L K Advani took out his Ram Rath Yatra, and young Thakur became active in the Ram Mandir movement.
In 1998, at 38, Thakur was given the BJP ticket from Chachiot Vidhan Sabha segment. Defeating Congress veteran Moti Ram Thakur by nearly 6,000 votes, Jairam made his maiden entry to the House. The BJP formed the government in Shimla under Prem Kumar Dhumal, with support of the Sukh Ram-led Himachal Vikas Congress. There has been no looking back since for Thakur, whose popularity in the area, locals say, lies with his grassroots touch. He has been instrumental in development of one of state’s most backward areas, according to his constituents.
Thakur won consecutive elections from Chachiot in 2003 and 2007 by big margins, before the constituency became Seraj. In 2012, he defeated Congress’s Tara Thakur by over 5,700 votes. A former minister of rural development and panchayati raj, Thakur won by 11,254 votes this time — his biggest victory margin thus far. Thakur, who believes “only humility and work pays” in life, said, “I am thankful to all my leaders who campaigned for me, and the voters who have reposed such faith in me.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines