ML khattar : Spartan pracharak to a chief minister

  • Hitender Rao, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Oct 27, 2014 00:02 IST

From a spartan RSS pracharak to being the chief minister (designate) of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar’s political journey has resemblance with that of his mentor, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

Like Modi, the RSS ideologue is someone who despite being from a humble family background rose to the top.

Live: Khattar sworn-in as Haryana chief minister, first from BJP

A sworn bachelor, much like Modi, his coronation as the 20th chief minister of Haryana will mean a break from the years of dynastic rule in the state.

Those who know him well say that Manohar Lal is a mild mannered but tough talking individual. "He is a hard task master, an ardent swayamsewak having a disciplined lifestyle and he means business,’’ said a source close to the chief minister.

The first time contestant, who made his electoral debut from Karnal assembly constituency, however starts his innings with a handicap having no administrative experience at all. In fact, a majority of the members of his yet to be finalised Council of Ministers are also expected to be raw administratively.

Since the new chief minister and his greenhorn team will have to heavily depend on the bureaucrats, it would be imperative that he picks his aides astutely. “Being a rather unknown entity, will work to his advantage. He will have an element of mystique around him,’’ said a Haryana watcher. BR

A major challenge for the chief minister designate and his team will encounter will be the resource crunch. The previous Congress government had virtually drained the state exchequer by announcing a series of poll centric pacifiers. Mobilising financial resources and cutting down expenditure would be one of the most testing tasks the new dispensation will have to undertake.

Early life

Born in Rohtak’s Nindana village in 1954 after his family was forced to migrate from West Punjab in 1947, now a part of Pakistan, he and his family saw some of the most difficult times early on. His father and grandfather had to take up odd jobs as labourers to earn their daily bread and butter. The family however could save some money to start a petty shop. And once the family shop started doing well, his father moved to the neighbouring Banyani village, purchased land and started farming.

Keen to pursue medicine, Manohar Lal is said to have braved his father’s opposition, borrowed money from his mother to enroll himself in Rohtak’s Neki Ram Sharma government college. He in fact was the first member of his family to study beyond class 10th. To prepare for medical entrance tests, Manohar Lal shifted to Delhi. However, destiny probably had something else in store for him. While putting up with his relatives, Manohar Lal dabbled in garment enterprise and opened a shop near Sadar Bazar. Simultaneously, he completed his graduation from Delhi University. He came in contact with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) during the emergency in 1975 and joined it in 1977. Impressed by the RSS ideology and conduct of swayamsewaks during emergency, he became a full time RSS pracharak by 1980.

Political expertise

Manohar Lal is known to be a master strategist within the BJP and is learnt to have led many electoral campaigns. He is known to be person who believes in keeping up with the times and is at ease with ever changing technology (read the social media). Having served the RSS for a decade and a half, Manohar Lal moved to the BJP and was appointed as organisation secretary for Haryana. He developed proximity to Narendra Modi when the latter was the party in charge for Haryana affairs. As the BJP’s organisation secretary, Manohar Lal witnessed many highs and lows on state’s political scene, including the reign and downfall of HVP-BJP combine led by Bansi Lal from 1996-1999 and the subsequent electoral tie up with Om Prakash Chautala’s INLD. Having come in close contact with Narendra Modi during this period, Manohar Lal was in 2002, was made poll in charge for Jammu and Kashmir. For the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Manohar Lal was appointed as the chairman of election campaign committee for Haryana.

Wide range of experience

The RSS ideologue has handled a variety of assignments over the years. Modi in fact had asked him to manage the polls in Gujarat’s Kutch after the Bhuj earthquake. Despite resentment from the people due to inadequate relief, Khattar’s was able to campaign successfully and got BJP three out of six seats. The first assembly elections in the newly created Chhattisgarh also provided Manohar Lal an opportunity to work in Bastar, a traditionally Congress stronghold where the BJP won 10 out of 12 seats.

In 2004, Manohar Lal was made in charge of 12 states, including Delhi and Rajasthan. He worked under the leadership of the renowned RSS ideologue, Balasaheb Apte. Thereafter, he was appointed as regional organisation general secretary for Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh. BJP also won 11 seats for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir when he was the organisation general secretary. He has also headed the Antyodaya Yojana for BJP nationally and has been at the forefront of several rescue and rehabilitation efforts - during floods in Kakrola village near Delhi’s Dwarka in 1978, Rohtak floods, earthquake in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri and Poonch districts.

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