Prime Minister Narendra Modi has endorsed Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist and first-time legislator Manohar Lal Khattar’s name for the chief minister’s post in Haryana following intense jockeying over the top position after the BJP swept the assembly polls, sources told HT on Monday.
Khattar, 60, has been an RSS pracharak for the past 40 years and an active BJP member for more than 20 years. Seen as close to Modi, he won the Karnal seat with a big margin of more than 63,000 votes in his debut election.
However, party leaders remained tightlipped on the CM choice and a final decision is expected after a meeting of all 47 MLAs in Chandigarh on Tuesday, which will be chaired by parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu and party vice-president Dinesh Sharma, appointed observers for the state.
“The two BJP leaders will take the opinion of all the elected MLAs at the meeting,” said BJP MLA from Ambala Cantonment Anil Vij. “During the meeting, MLAs keen on becoming CM can stake claim before the observers.”
State BJP chief Ram Bilas Sharma and Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, who was backed by a section of the state unit, were also in the running for the top job, but it was Khattar who looked to be the favoured choice.
Party sources said that during a meeting of the BJP top brass on Sunday, the PM endorsed Khattar’s name for CM. The fact that the BJP fielded him from Karnal, considered a safe seat for the party, was ample indication of its plans for the Punjabi leader.
Sources said while the Sangh had reservations about state unit chief Sharma, Union minister Swaraj was not keen on moving away from the Centre.
“The majority view is in favour of having a non-Jat as chief minister,” a BJP leader said.