A first time contestant and a first time legislator, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) ideologue, Manohar Lal Khattar (60) was on Tuesday chosen as the leader of the BJP legislature group in Haryana assembly and thereby will be the next chief minister of Haryana.
Khattar, a Punjabi from Rohtak will be sworn-in as the 20th chief minister of Haryana on October 26 at Panchkula. It will be after 18 years that a non-Jat leader will be at the helm in Haryana. The last non-Jat chief minister in the state was Bhajan Lal from 1991 to 1996. Since then Jat chief ministers - Bansi Lal of Haryana Vikas Party, Om Prakash Chautala of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Bhupinder Singh Hooda of the Congress (two terms) ruled the state.
Khattar’s name was proposed by state BJP president, Ram Bilas Sharma and seconded by Ambala Cantt MLA, Anil Vij for the top post during a meeting of 47 BJP MLAs at Chandigarh’s UT Guest House on Tuesday.
Party sources said that meeting of the newly elected legislators to elect their leader was more of a formality as the decision to coronate Khattar was a foregone conclusion after Prime Minister, Narendra Modi endorsed his name.
The chief minister designate later met Haryana governor, Kaptan Singh Solanki and staked BJP’s claim to form the government. He was accompanied by union minister, Venkaiah Naidu who was the observer for the Tuesday’s meeting of the legislators and state BJP chief Ram Bilas Sharma. After consultations, the governor invited Khattar for swearing in on October 26 at Panchkula. BJP sources said that Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and an array of BJP top leaders including chief ministers are likely to attend the swearing in ceremony.
Immediately after meeting the governor, the chief minister designate tweeted: “Let us open a new chapter that focuses on good governance and development for all for a prosperous and progressive Haryana. Jai Hind”
Indications of a larger role for the RSS pracharak were evident from the time when the BJP high command fielded him from Karnal assembly constituency, considered a safe seat. Despite initial hiccups Khattar posted an emphatic win. During a meeting of BJP top brass on Sunday, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi endorsed Khattar’s name for the top post in Haryana.
It was decided in the meeting that a non-Jat would be made the chief minister as an acknowledgement to the overwhelming support the saffron party got from non-Jat communities in the state and made them literally sweep the northern and southern Haryana.
BJP sources said that it was also decided that no Member of Parliament (MP) would be considered for the chief minister’s post thus scuttling the prospects of Gurgaon MP, Rao Inderjit Singh and Faridabad MP, Krishan Pal Gurjar. While a section in the BJP was pushing for Union Minister, Sushma Swaraj’s name, she herself not keen on leaving the central scene.