Rattan Lal Kataria: Unassuming BJP leader who turned odds into opportunity - Hindustan Times
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Rattan Lal Kataria: Unassuming BJP leader who turned odds into opportunity

May 18, 2023 07:52 PM IST

Ambala BJP MP breathed his last at Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, at 3.30am on Thursday after a brief illness

Three-time Ambala Lok Sabha MP and veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Rattan Lal Kataria was known for his unassuming persona, ear-to-the-ground approach and determination with which he battled poverty since childhood to turn his disadvantage into an opportunity.

Three-time Ambala Lok Sabha MP and veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Rattan Lal Kataria passed away at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, on Thursday after a brief illness. (HT file photo)
Three-time Ambala Lok Sabha MP and veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Rattan Lal Kataria passed away at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, on Thursday after a brief illness. (HT file photo)

Also read: Irreparable loss to politics: Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar condoles demise

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Born on December 19, 1951, to cobbler Jyoti Ram, Kataria took pride in his humble background and grew to be a rattan (jewel) in the true sense of the word. There were times when he would repair footwear at his native place, Ladwa, even after becoming the MP.

Kataria breathed his last at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, at 3.30am on Thursday after a brief illness. Hours before his death, former Tripura chief minister and Haryana in-charge of the BJP, Biplab Kumar Deb, met him at the hospital.

Born at Sandhali village of Yamunanagar district, Kataria joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at an early stage and remained an active pracharak for five decades.

Grit took him to success

“He was a visionary with an infectious smile. It was because of sheer grit and intelligence that he rose to such heights in politics despite coming from such a humble family. In his passing, the BJP has lost a popular leader. It is a big loss for the party,” said Sanjay Sharma, Haryana BJP spokesperson, who knew Kataria personally.

BJP leaders say Kataria was not just a bright student but determined too as he never let poverty come in the way of pursuing higher studies. He went on to do post-graduation in political science and LLB from Kurukshetra University. “His qualification is a testament of his intelligence and practical approach,” Sharma said.

Kataria, known to pen poems, had a penchant for singing patriotic songs, too.

Resilient in politics

In 1985, Kataria was elected the Radaur MLA and became the state revenue minister. In 1999, he won the Lok Sabha election from Ambala (reserved) with a margin of 1.24 lakh votes.

Kataria was the Haryana BJP chief from 2000-03.

In 2009, he suffered a setback as he lost to Kumari Selja of the Congress only to win by a massive margin of 3.4 lakh votes in the next general election in 2014. He was re-elected from Ambala in 2019 and went on to become a Union minister of state for Jal Shakti and social justice and empowerment.

Cheerful nature endeared him to all

Kataria’s cheerful nature endeared him to leaders not only from his party but across the political spectrum. In his condolence message, Haryana BJP president OP Dhankar tweeted in Hindi: “Hanste hanste rula gaye Shri Rattan Lal Kataria. His cheerful nature was a part of his personality. Service-oriented, humble and friendly, his house was the BJP’s home. I got the opportunity to work with him for decades. His passing away is a loss for the country, state, party and me personally.”

Kataria is survived by his father (98), wife, two daughters and a son.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Pawan Sharma, based in Chandigarh, is Assistant Editor in HT and presently writes on Haryana's politics and governance. During different stints over the past two decades, he covered Punjab extensively for 10 years and before that judiciary and Himachal Pradesh with focus on high-impact news breaking and investigative journalism.

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