Anurag Thakur: A cricket boss looks set for new innings in Modi's cabinet

Anurag Singh Thakur takes charge as MoS Finance and Corporate Affairs, at his office in North Block, New Delhi | PTI
In his profile on the Lok Sabha website, Anurag Thakur, the minister of state for finance as well as corporate affairs, describes his profession as “cricketer, industrialist and agriculturist”. 

Any profile of Thakur’s, however, is incomplete without mentioning that he is the son of Prem Kumar Dhumal, former Himachal Pradesh chief minister and one of the tallest of Bharatiya Janata Party leaders from the state. 

Thakur, as any who have met him would tell you, does not fit the stereotype of the arrogant dynast. Probably that he grew up in Himachal Pradesh and studied in Jalandhar, rather than Lutyens Delhi, has helped to keep him rooted and win successive Lok Sabha elections, beginning with the bypoll in Hamirpur in 2008 and subsequently the 2009, 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls from that seat. 

Thakur ran an export house from 1993 to 2008 and dabbled in cricket. He was a right hand batsman and right arm off break bowler, an all-rounder. He played one Ranji Trophy match for Himachal against Jammu and Kashmir in the 2000-01 season, batted for seven balls and scored a duck in the first innings, bowled five overs to take two wickets. He did not bat in the second innings as his team declared early. His team lost the game. 

Thakur did not play another Ranji match but flowered as a cricket administrator. He was the moving force behind transforming the Dharamsala cricket stadium, currently one of the most picturesque cricket stadium in the country, to international standards. After heading the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association, Thakur became a BCCI office bearer in 2011. 

Thakur was a rare BCCI official to speak up against the establishment after the IPL corruption scandal in 2013. He was elected the BCCI president in May 2016, the second youngest-ever to head the board. The stint was marked by the battle between the BCCI and the Lodha Committee. He was removed from office by a Supreme Court order on January 2, 2017. 

In Parliament, Thakur has defended the government ably, including on Budget. Senior BJP leader and former finance minister Arun Jaitley has had a key influence on Thakur over the years.  

Thakur’s understanding of business, agriculture, administration and all-rounder skills could come in handy at North Block.

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