Chandigarh: Following its victory in the Haryana assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party is all set to appoint Manohar Lal Khattar as the state’s new chief minister.
The 60-year-old former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak was unanimously elected to become the state’s first BJP chief minister by the party’s 47 newly elected MLAs. A Khatri by caste, Khattar will be the first non-Jat chief minister in the Jat-dominated state in 18 years.
Khattar’s name was proposed by state president Ram Bilas Sharma, said Dinesh Sharma, a party vice president who attended a meeting in a guest house in Chandigarh on Tuesday to choose the chief minister. Venkaiah Naidu, the central urban development minister, was also present.
Khattar, a first-time MLA, has worked as a RSS Pracharak for 40 long years. Born in Rohtak district, he had contested the Assembly elections from Karnal. He won the Karnal seat with a margin of 63,736 votes. He is stated to be close to both Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.
Known for his sharp political acumen, 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.
Befitting his association with RSS, his views on women is as obscurantist as his ideological parent. During his election campaign, Khattar had blamed women for India’s rising number of rapes.
“If a girl is dressed decently, a boy will not look at her in the wrong way,” Khattar had said. When asked whether young people should have freedom of choice, he replied, “If you want freedom, why don’t they just roam around naked? Freedom has to be limited. These short clothes are western influences. Our country’s tradition asks girls to dress decently.”
During his campaign, Khattar also expressed support for Khap panchayats ‒ unofficial village bodies that dispense justice in some parts of North India. The politician had said that Khap rulings are justified as they are only trying to maintain Indian traditions and culture in the state.