Manali: From humble origins to being the 13th Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, for Jairam Thakur it has been one roller coaster ride to power in the fickle world of politics where the going it tough and one electoral defeat and destroy a political career built over a lifetime.
Born on 6th January 1965 in the small and remote village Tandi in Mandi district, Thakur today moved into his official residence Oak Over in Shimla. He was elected BJP legislative party leader on 24 December, a sudden vacancy created by the shocking defeat of Prem Kumar Dhumal, who was the chief minister designate as party president Amit Shah had announced it in the run up to the elections in November.
Jairam Thakur was first elected to the Himachal Pradesh Assembly in 1998 and since then has been representing the Seraj assembly segment; this being the 5th term in continuance.
In the 2008-2012 term of Prem Kumar Dhumal term as chief minister, Thakur was a cabinet minister where he handled the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj ministry.
Fourth among five siblings, he has two sisters and two brothers. Thakur did his schooling from Government Senior Secondary School, Bagsiad, BA from Vallabh Government College, Mandi and completed his Masters from Panjab University in Chandigarh.
His parents used to work on the family farm, and his father supplemented his income by working as a mason. Their family life was not one of luxury because of the limited family earnings. As a student he used to work with his parents and helped them to supplement the family income.
At college Jairam joined ABVP and won the first students election under its banner. That was the start of his political innings, he remained ABVP State Joint Secretary in 1986; Organizing Secretary, ABVP (J&K) – 1989-93; State Secretary Bhartiya Janata Party Yuva Morcha – 1993-95; President State Bhartiya Janata Party Yuva Morcha, District Mandi – 2000-03; Vice President State BJP, 2003-05; and President State Bhartiya Janata Party – 2006-09.
Thakur is married to ABVP colleague Sadhana Thakur. They have two daughters. Sadhana is a doctor and a Kannadigaru, who was born and brought up in Jaipur.
Thakur is the first chief minister of the state who is from the Mandi district.
Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice.
He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express.
With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology.
Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.