New Delhi: With just nine days left for polling to take place in Himachal Pradesh, BJP president Amit Shah on Tuesday announced that 73-year-old veteran leader Professor P.K. Dhumal will be the party’s chief ministerial candidate in the hill state. The name of Prof Dhumal, who is just two years short of the party’s unofficial age bar, was announced by Mr Shah at an election rally in the state where the Virbhadra Singh-led Congress government is facing massive anti-incumbency sentiment.

 A former chief minister and a Thakur, Prof Dhumal is contesting from a new Assembly constituency, Sujanpur, this time. Sujanpur and its adjoining seats, including Kangra, Hamirpur and Mandi, have a significant Thakur population. Thakurs, who constitute about 35 per cent of the population, are the largest caste group in Himachal, followed by Dalits (25 per cent), Brahmins (15 per cent) and OBCs (12 per cent).