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Khattar’s comment at Jan Ashirwad Yatra fuels speculations of a leadership change in Haryana

Close aides of both Khattar, Yadav refutes all speculations, say no change is expected.

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh |
August 17, 2021 9:43:05 pm
Manohar Lal KhattarThe Bill, tabled by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, also proposes attachment of property of the convicted persons for the recovery of fine. (File)

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s remarks that newly-appointed Union Cabinet minister, Bhupender Yadav, could take up the leadership baton from senior BJP leaders in the state Haryana has fueled speculations of a major shake-up within the party’s state unit.

Khattar, who is 67-years-old, made the remarks during the Jan Ashirwad Yatra of Union Cabinet minister Bhupender Yadav, who is a native of a village in Gurgaon district.

“People in the age group of 60-70 years would not be able to continue for long in leadership positions, and younger leaders, such as Yadav, should be at the forefront”, Khattar said.

“How long will the 60-70 year-old people continue? You are young.. 52 years is young”, Khattar said, hinting that Yadav could be given some important position in the state’s party unit.

Yadav kicked-off his Jan Ashirwad Yatra on Monday – a five-day tour covering at least 620km. He began it from his ancestral village in Gurgaon district on Monday and shall be covering six parliamentary constituencies (70 assembly constituencies) in Haryana and Rajasthan during the yatra.

Yadav’s yatra — that crossed through parts of southern Haryana — has, however, irked Union minister of state, Rao Inderjit Singh, who is among the tallest leaders in southern Haryana. Singh had remained absent from Yadav’s entire yatra and public meetings, which has fueled more speculations.

Yadav, in his public addresses in Haryana, had emphasised that Haryana was his “janmbhoomi” (place of birth) and whenever he had been travelling to Rajasthan, he crosses his “janmbhoomi”. He added that all he wants from the people of Haryana was to “strengthen the BJP” in the state.

A senior BJP leader told The Indian Express, “The Jan Ashirwad Yatra has been happening with all the newly-inducted Cabinet ministers. However, for a Cabinet minister [Bhupender Yadav] to be coming to a constituency that is already represented by another Cabinet minister [Rao Inderjit Singh] who isn’t on board with the yatra, definitely raises some eyebrows. Within the party, there are rumblings that Haryana has been on the scanner for quite some time. There have been internal meetings both at the party and at the Sangh level. On top of this, the Chief Minister’s fresh remarks give a strong indication that something has already been decided. Also, the visits of the Chief Minister to Delhi have increased lately. We have been hearing some internal meetings have also been taking place at the higher levels. The Cabinet expansion has also been delayed for quite some time, now. But, frankly, all these are mere permutations and combinations and nothing substantial can be said unless the final decision is announced from the right platform.”

Although Khattar’s remarks have given momentum to talks of a leadership change in Haryana, his close aides claimed what the Chief Minister said was nothing “but a courteous remark made by him towards a young leader”. “There is no leadership change happening in Haryana. The Chief Minister is as such very active and even after recovering from Covid-19, he has been continuously touring the state as he used to before”, one of Khattar’s close aides told The Indian Express.

Talking to The Indian Express, Bhupender Yadav, on the other hand, said, “Whatever responsibility I have got is due to my commitment, hard work, penance and sacrifices made while being part of my organisation. I have not got anything for being part of a particular caste, community, or for belonging to a particular region. I have only got it all by working hard for the organisation.”

Prodded about speculations of a leadership change in Haryana, Yadav termed such news as mere speculations made by the media. “Whatever Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said, it was his personal feeling. As far as Bhupender Yadav is concerned, he has not won an election. He was sent to the Rajya Sabha by the organisation because of his hard work. He is among the top strategists and election planners of the party. He is like a pillar to Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Confining such an important party worker in one state would not be the party’s strategy”, a close aide of Bhupender Yadav told The Indian Express.

Replying to questions that since Bhupender Yadav comes from the Yadav community and if he is handed over Haryana’s charge, it may benefit the BJP in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, Yadav’s aide added, “It is definitely good for Ahirwal region that two leaders have come from this belt to the Union cabinet [referring to Yadav and Rao Inderjit Singh]. It is for the first time that a Cabinet minister has been made from the Yadav community. It is definitely a matter of pride for the entire Yadav community and the OBC community. Bhupender ji has to play very long political innings. He is a big general of the party and the organisation will look up to him in the future during the next Lok Sabha elections. The party will never want that one of their most important generals, who oversees the election management of several states, is confined to merely one state.”

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