Five-time legislator Jairam Thakur, who rose through the ranks and is known for his humble, clean and low-profile nature, will be the 14th Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, the BJP announced on Sunday.
A decision on his name was taken unanimously at the Bharatiya Janata Party Legislative Party meeting here, where central observers -- Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Singh Tomar -- were present along with Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda and state party incharge Mangal Pandey.
"Thakur was elected BJP Legislature Party leader in the (Himachal Pradesh) Assembly," Tomar told reporters, adding that "no proposal was made for any other candidate".
Thakur's name was proposed by two-time former Chief Minister P.K. Dhumal and seconded by Nadda and another two-time Chief Minister Shanta Kumar.
The Chief Minister-elect met Governor Acharya Devvrat to formally stake claim to form the new government in the hill state.
In his first remarks after he was elected the BJP Legislature Party leader, Thakur thanked all party leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief Amit Shah, Nadda, Dhumal and Shanta Kumar.
"We will try to meet the expectations of the people of Himachal Pradesh. Our dream of a Congress-free Himachal Pradesh has been realised," Thakur told reporters.
The BJP took almost a week to decide on the Chief Minister after its chief ministerial candidate Dhumal lost the election. Several names were doing the rounds for the past few days, including those of Nadda, MLA Suresh Bharadwaj, Dhumal and Thakur.
Thakur -- who will turn 53 on January 6 -- belongs to the Rajput community with a significant presence in the hill state.
Thakur won his fifth consecutive assembly election from Seraj, earlier known as Chachiot in Mandi district, defeating Chet Ram of the Congress.
He will be the first Chief Minister from Mandi, the second biggest district of Himachal after Kangra. In these elections, the BJP won nine out of the 10 assembly seats in Mandi.
Earlier Chief Ministers of Himachal hailed from Shimla, Kangra and Sirmaur districts.
Thakur was a Cabinet minister in the BJP government led by Dhumal from 2007 to 2012.
The Chief Minister-elect, known for his proximity to Nadda, did his graduation from a Mandi college and post-graduation from Panjab University in Chandigarh. Thakur is married to Sadhna Singh, a doctor by profession.
"My son has seen extreme poverty in his childhood," his emotional mother Bikrumi Devi, 79, told reporters at her ancestral house in Tandi village in the interiors of Mandi district.
Thakur's father Jhethu Ram, who was struggling to make ends meet, died on December 25 last year.
Thakur, the fourth of five siblings, lost his maiden assembly election in 1993. He contested the assembly election again in 1998 and since then has won all five assembly elections consecutively with huge margins.
A senior BJP leader told IANS: Thakur has suitable credentials for the top post as he has been a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarathi Parishad, the student wing affiliated to the BJP's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
The BJP wrested power in Himachal from the Congress, winning close to a two thirds majority with 44 seats in the 68-member Assembly. The Congress won 21 seats, independents two and the Communist Party of India-Marxist one.
Thakur emerged as a front runner after Dhumal and state party chief Satpal Satti were defeated in the November 9 elections. The poll results were declared on December 18.