Former RSS pracharak Manohar Lal Khattar will be sworn in as the new chief minister of Haryana at Tau Devi Lal stadium in Panchkula on October 26. Khattar, 60, will be the fourth non-Jat to lead Haryana in its 48-year history.
Khattar, who won the Karnal seat in his debut assembly election by 63,000 votes, was chosen by the BJP’s 47 MLAs at a meeting of the legislative party at the UT guesthouse in Chandigarh on Tuesday afternoon.
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A master strategist known for his political acumen, Khattar was appointed chairman of the BJP’s Haryana election committee for the recent Lok Sabha elections. Khattar joined the RSS in 1980, and has spent nearly 35 years as an active pracharak. He joined the BJP two decades ago. He was born in Haryana, and is a bachelor. In 1994, Khattar was made the Sangathan Mahamantri in Haryana.
The 40-minute meeting was chaired by BJP central observers Venkaiah Naidu, union urban development minister, and Dinesh Sharma, party vice-president. State BJP president Ram Bilas Sharma proposed Khattar’s name, which was accepted unanimously.
Khattar, who will take oath at 11 am on Sunday, said, “I thank the people of Haryana, [Prime Minister]
Narendra Modi and [BJP president] Amit Shah for giving me this responsibility.”
Other BJP MLAs who had been in the reckoning to be CM — Captain Abhimanyu, Anil Vij, Om Prakash Dhankar and Sharma himself — are likely to be given ministerial berths.
Khattar, who is a bachelor, joined the RSS in 1980, and has spent over three decades being an active pracharak. He is known for his sharp political acumen, and has a reputation for being a master strategist. In 1994, he was sent to the Haryana BJP as sangathan mahamantri. He was instrumental in the BJP’s withdrawal of support to Bansi Lal’s Haryana Vikas Party, and backing Om Prakash Chautala instead.
In 1996, Khattar first began working with Narendra Modi, who was then in-charge of Haryana. He was called upon to manage the 2002 assembly election campaign in Kutch, and was also given charge of the Jammu and Kashmir elections the same year.
In 2004, Khattar got charge of 12 states, including Delhi and Rajasthan. He worked with veteran RSS ideologue Bal Apte, who was then heading the Chunaav Sahayak Yojna. Immediately thereafter, Khattar was made Regional Sangathan Mahamantri for J&K, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh.
For the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Khattar was appointed chairman of the BJP’s Haryana election committee.
Contrary to the popular image of a veteran RSS pracharak, Khattar is extremely tech-savvy — he uses an Apple laptop, has his own website, and is fairly active on social media including Twitter and Facebook. On Twitter, he follows, besides the BJP and its leaders, and several media organisations.
The roots of Khattar’s family are in West Punjab, now in Pakistan. The family migrated to India during Partition and settled in Nindana village of Haryana’s Rohtak district. Manohar Lal’s father Harbans Lal did several labourer’s jobs before starting a small shop in the village. The family subsequently moved to Banyani village and took up farming.
Khattar was born in 1954, and started school at the age of six. He was the first member of his family to study beyond class 10, but his parents did not have the resources to support his dream of studying medicine.
The aspiration, however, led Khattar to Delhi, and he graduated from Delhi University. While living with relatives in the capital, he borrowed money to open a shop. He chose to ignore his parents’s desire to see him married, and joined the RSS, where he became a fulltime pracharak.
According to Khattar’s election affidavit, his assets total Rs 8.89 lakh, including 20 kanal of agricultural land and a 150-sq yard house in Banyani village in Kalanaur, Rohtak district. His liabilities are Rs 6 lakh, and as an income tax payee, his total income for 2013-14 was Rs 2,73,315.
According to the affidavit, Khattar does not own a vehicle, and earns his living through agriculture and by giving tuitions.
The new chief minister will be only the fourth non-Jat to lead Haryana, the other three being Pandit Bhagwat Dayal Sharma, the first chief minister of the state, Banarsi Dass Gupta who was chief minister from 1975-77 during the Emergency, and then again for a few weeks in 1990, and Bhajan Lal, whose final stint ended in 1996.
Senior BJP leaders Kailash Vijayvargiya and Anil Jain, who were in charge of the party’s campaign for the Vidhan Sabha elections, were also present at Tuesday’s meeting.
After Khattar’s name was cleared, three independent MLAs and the lone MLA of the BSP extended their support to the BJP, Venkaiah Naidu told reporters.