Five-time MLA Jairam Thakur will be the new Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh. He will take oath on December 27.

Thakur was elected BJP Legislature Party leader at a meeting on Sunday, Dec 24. Media reports said senior party leader Prem Kumar Dhumal, who was the party’s chief ministerial face but lost the elections from his constituency of Sujanpur, proposed his name, and former Chief Minister Shanta Kumar and Union Minister JP Nadda seconded it.

The decision had been hanging fire due to several contenders emerging for the post after Dhumal lost the Assembly poll. The top contenders for the post included Seraj legislator Thakur, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, Union health minister JP Nadda and Shimla MLA Suresh Bhardwaj.

A lack of consensus among the newly elected MLAs resulted in the two central observers — Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Singh Tomar — returning to Delhi from Shimla on December 23 to hold fresh consultation with the central leadership. The observers, who were in the State on December 21 and 22, had taken feedback from members of the State BJP’s core committee, RSS functionaries, MPs and some MLAs.

Thakur would be the 13th CM of Himachal Pradesh and the first from Mandi district.

The Chief Minister-elect will meet state Governor Acharya Dev Vrat to formally stake the claim to form the government in the hill state.

In his first remarks after being elected as the BJP legislature party leader, Thakur thanked all party leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief Amit Shah, Nadda, Dhumal and Shanta Kumar.

Addressing a press conference after being chosen to head the state government, Thakur said, “We were waiting for a BJP government in Himachal Pradesh. Now the state is ‘Congress-mukt’.”

Thakur, is turning 53 on January 6, belongs to the Rajput community that has a significant presence in the state.

He won his fifth consecutive assembly election from Seraj, earlier known as Chirchot, in Mandi district, defeating Chet Ram of the Congress. He was a cabinet minister in the previous BJP government in the state led by Prem Kumar Dhumal from 2007 to 2012.

Thakur was known for his proximity with Nadda. He did his graduation from a college in Mandi town and postgraduation from Panjab University in Chandigarh.

Thakur lost his maiden assembly election in 1993. He contested the assembly election in 1998 and since then consecutively won all the five assembly elections with a huge margin.

A senior party leader told news agency IANS Thakur has “suitable credentials” for the post as he has been a member of ABVP, the student wing affiliated to BJP’s ideological mentor RashtriyaSwayamsevak Sangh.

The BJP wrested power in Himachal Pradesh from the Congress, winning close to two-thirds majority with 44 seats in the 68-member assembly while the Congress was decimated to 21 seats.