The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to decide on its first chief minister in Haryana at a meeting of the newly-elected party MLAs here on Tuesday.
The meeting of the legislature group will be held in the presence of BJP central observers, Union minister Venkaiah Naidu and Dinesh Sharma. The party had on Sunday attained a clear majority in the assembly, winning 47 seats on its own.
BJP sources said Manohar Lal Khattar (60), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pracharak from Rohtak, seems to be the frontrunner for the post of leader of the BJP legislature group in the assembly and hence the next chief minister. Khattar won his debut election from the Karnal seat by a huge margin of more than 63,000 votes.
Party sources said that at the meeting of the BJP top brass on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is learnt to have endorsed Khattar’s name for the top post in Haryana. While a section in the party pushed the case of state BJP chief Ram Bilas Sharma, there were others who thought that Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj would be an ideal choice for Haryana. Party sources added that there were reservations in the Sangh over Sharma’s name, while Swaraj, despite showing initial inclination, was not keen to make a move from the central scene.
As per BJP insiders, Khattar, a sworn bachelor, enjoys the confidence of the RSS as well as Modi. Hailing from Rohtak’s Nindana village, Khattar has worked as the organising secretary in the Haryana BJP when Modi was the in-charge of party affairs in the state. The fact that the BJP fielded him from Karnal, considered a rather safe seat for the saffron party, gave ample indication of the party’s plans for the Punjabi leader.