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Even though incumbent Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jai Ram Thakur is set to win from Mandi district's Seraj constituency, he will be stepping down from the CM seat, with Congress in lead. Congress has crossed the majority mark and is all set to form the government in Himachal Pradesh.
"I will tender my resignation to the Governor in a short while from now," Jairam Thakur said.
"I respect people's mandate and I want to thank the prime minister and other central leadership during the last 5 years. We'll stand for the development of the state irrespective of politics. We'll analyse our shortcoming and improve during the next term," he added.
Meanwhile, Thakur, as of now, is defeating Congress' Chet Ram with a margin of over 37,000 votes after 15 rounds of counting.
Who is Jai Ram Thakur?
During the 2007 assembly elections, Thakur was the BJP’s state chief. This was the first time the BJP formed the government in Himachal Pradesh on its own, with Prem Kumar Dhumal as the CM. At that time, Thakur served as Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj in the Dhumal government from 2010 to 2012.
It was Dhumal's shocking defeat in the 2017 assembly polls that led to the chief ministerial race in the state being thrown open, and Thakur emerged as the “natural choice”, despite names of several tall leaders, including Union minister J P Nadda, doing the rounds.
When had Thakur first contested elections?
At the age of 28, Thakur fought his first election -- the state assembly elections from Chachiot in Himachal Pradesh in 1993.
He lost by a slender 800-vote margin but caught the attention of the BJP's top brass. In 1998, Thakur contested from the same seat and won.
Seraj in Mandi Lok Sabha constituency is Thakur’s citadel, with him winning the assembly seat five times consecutively. Earlier, the Seraj assembly constituency was called Chachiot. It was changed to Seraj after the delimitation exercise of 2007.
Who had Congress fielded against Thakur?
The Congress had fielded Chet Ram against Jai Ram Thakur. Chet Ram has been active in politics for over 30 years since 1990, when he was elected as the Panchayat Pradhan.
What happened in 2017?
In the 2017 Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, Thakur had won from Seraj with a margin of over 11,000 votes, defeating Congress candidate Chet Ram.
In the run up to the 2022 elections…
Thakur, the incumbent CM, had announced projects worth hundreds of crores in line with the BJP’s development agenda. The party’s primary poll plank was to push for a “double engine ki sarkaar,” which essentially means the same party at the Centre and at the state level.
What about the BJP?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigned extensively in the state – which he often referred to as his “second home” – in October and November. PM Modi also inaugurated several projects in Himachal Pradesh, including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Bilaspur, and the high-speed luxury Vande Bharat Express from Una.
However, rebels who contested as independents may have played spoilsport for the BJP. The BJP had dropped 11 sitting MLAs while giving tickets ahead of elections. This had caused a rebellion within the BJP camp.
How many seats in Himachal Pradesh Assembly?
The state’s Assembly has a total of 68 seats, making the majority mark 35 (68/2 +1). In the 2017 assembly elections, the BJP had won 44 seats, while the Congress won 21.
What worked in the Congress favour?
Unlike the BJP, which raked up issues such as the Uniform Civil Code, the Congress campaign followed a localised approach to campaigning, much like what they did in Chhattisgarh.
The Congress promised to increase the income of and offer better prices to apple growers, employment opportunities for five lakh youth, payment of Rs 1,500 per month for women, and the return of the Old Pension Scheme, among other promises.
The lack of a CM face turned out to be a hidden blessing for the Congress as it pushed all the state leaders to cooperate and work harder in their respective areas. Besides, the party refrained from commenting on PM Modi, a popular face in Himachal Pradesh.