Haryana that on Sunday voted to power its first BJP government may get a Punjabi chief minister, with Manohar Lal Khattar emerging as a front-runner for the top job.
Khattar, who was elected from Karnal, is a former RSS parcharak and that gives him an edge over other contenders -- Ram Bilas Sharma, who won a fifth term from Mahendargarh, and Capt Abhimanyu, sources said.
The party, however, had not decided on a name and a leader would be elected during the BJP’s legislature party meeting expected to be called in a couple of days, sources said. Urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu will be the party observer at the meeting.
“The BJP has extensively polled non-Jat votes and this could become a premise for the BJP to install a non-Jat CM,” a party leader told HT on condition of anonymity.
The BJP created history in the 90-member assembly by increasing its tally from a miniscule four seats to poll-winning 47. The party’s vote share, too, galloped, from 9% to 33%.
“We never contested more than 26 seats in Haryana; we fought on all 90 seats this time,” party chief Amit Shah said.
The Jat-Punjabi rivalry that runs deep in the northern state could, however, work against Khattar, often dubbed an “outsider” by rivals. Names of Union ministers Rao Inderjit Singh and senior party leader Krishna Pal Gujjar are also doing the rounds.
Among Jat leaders, Capt Abhimanyu, elected from Narnaund, is considered a claimant to the CM’s post.
A former party spokesperson, he worked closely with Shah in Uttar Pradesh during the Lok Sabha polls.