It is the end of electoral politics for BJP veteran and former two-term Prime Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal as he opted out of the November 12 state elections, leaving his supporters stunned.
The 78-year-old has been in hiding since suffering a shocking defeat at the hands of protégé-turned-enemy Rajinder Singh Rana of the Sujanpur assembly segment in the 2017 election.
One of the reasons for his retirement may be that he has exceeded the age limit of 75 set by the BJP for its leaders to withdraw from electoral politics. His supporters hoped that party would send him from Sujanpur or Hamirpur to bolster his prospects in Hamirpur district.
He also attended the state election committee meeting held in New Delhi on Monday to discuss the nominees for the election.
“I had communicated to the high command of the party a long time ago that this time I will not participate in the elections. I have decided not to run but that does not mean I have left politics,” said Prem Kumar Dhumal, who attended the Pradesh Election Committee meeting in Delhi last night.
Born on April 10, 1944, Dhumal comes from a military family. He did his primary education at his village school and then got a Master’s degree in English (Hons) from Doaba College, Jalandhar and LLB from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. He taught at a private university before joining politics. Dhumal remained the state vice president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) in 1982.
The veteran leader unsuccessfully contested his first election for the Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat in 1985. He entered the lower house of parliament in 1989 by winning Hamirpur and also became state president.
He was re-elected in 1991 but lost in 1996. He became state chairman of the BJP in 1993.
Dhumal was elected to the state assembly in 1998 from the Bamsan assembly segment and was chosen by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was then in charge of party affairs in Himachal, to lead the BJP-Himachal Vikas Congress coalition government. . He also became the first chief minister outside of Congress to serve a full term in the state.
He retained his seat in 2003 and became the leader of the opposition in the state assembly. He was elected to the Hamirpur Lok Sabha in 2007 and returned to the post of prime minister for a second term, the same year after the BJP won the assembly elections with an overwhelming majority.
Bamsan constituency was abolished in a redistricting exercise ahead of the 2012 assembly elections and he shifted his base to Hamirpur winning by a wide margin and becoming the leader of the opposition in the chamber again.
In the 2017 elections, the party re-announced him as the leading ministerial candidate and sent him to run from Sujanpur, where he suffered a shocking defeat.
After the BJP launched an investigation into Pushkar Singh Dhami’s defeat in the Uttarakhand assembly elections, Dhumal also demanded a similar investigation into his defeat.