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 Tuesday.
However, party leaders remained tight-lipped and a final decision is expected after a meeting of all 47 MLAs at Chandigarh on Wednesday, 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 for taking oath as chief minister.
Party sources said that at a meeting of the BJP top brass on Sunday, the Prime Minister endorsed his name for CM. The very 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 chief Sharma, Union minister Swaraj was not keen on moving away from the Centre.
Khattar, 60, has been an RSS pracharak for the past 40 years and an active BJP member for over 20 years. Seen as close to Prime Minister Modi, he won the Karnal seat with a margin of over 63,000 votes.