Khattar to be Haryana CM; oath taking Sunday

Manohar Lal Khattar
Manohar Lal Khattar

Chandigarh (IANS): Haryana is all set for a BJP rule for the first time, with Chief Minister-designate Manohar Lal Khattar scheduled to be sworn in Sunday.

Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki Tuesday invited Khattar, who earlier in the day was elected leader of the Haryana BJP Legislative Party, to form the new government in the state.

The oath-taking ceremony will take place at the Tau Devi Lal Sports Stadium in Panchkula, near here, instead of the Haryana Raj Bhavan.

Khattar, 60, will be the first Bharatiya Janata Party chief minister of the state, which was formed Nov 1, 1966.

The former Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) ‘pracharak’ was chosen by the newly elected BJP legislators as their leader at a meeting here.

The BJP, which created political history Sunday by winning 47 seats in the Haryana assembly polls, Tuesday staked its claim to form the next government in the state. The BJP, till now, used to play second fiddle to other regional parties in the state.

A letter from the party was submitted to the Haryana governor by Khattar after he was unanimously elected leader of the BJP legislative group.

Khattar was accompanied to Raj Bhavan by union minister Venkaiah Naidu, BJP national vice president Dinesh Sharma, state BJP president Ram Bilas Sharma, union minister Krishan Pal Gurjar and other BJP leaders.

“I have been chosen by the party legislators and the BJP leadership for this responsibility. I can assure you that we will work for the welfare of the people of Haryana,” Khattar said.

“My government will be transparent and there will be no discrimination with any area. We will take everyone together,” Khattar, sporting a light blue half-jacket, told media persons.

Despite being a first-time legislator with no administrative experience, the BJP chose the man from the Punjabi community to play its debutant leading role in the Jat-dominated politics of Haryana.

Khattar is seen as a “no-nonsense man” with organizational skills.

Naidu and Sharma attended the meeting of the legislators as observers sent by the BJP’s parliamentary board.

“The name of Khattar was proposed for chief minister by Haryana BJP president Ram Bilas Sharma and he (Khattar) was unanimously elected,” BJP central observer Dinesh Sharma told media.

The BJP got the majority on its own for the first time in Haryana in the results of the elections to the 90-member assembly declared Sunday.

Besides Khattar, other names earlier doing rounds for the chief minister’s post were those of state BJP president Ram Bilas Sharma, state BJP spokesperson Abhimanyu, senior legislator Anil Vij and BJP Kisan Cell leader O.P. Dhankar from among the recently elected legislators.

Other names being mentioned were of union ministers Sushma Swaraj, Rao Inderjit Singh and Krishan Pal. The name of Congressman-turned-BJP leader Birender Singh also figured in the speculation.

Birender Singh, Rao Inderjit Singh and Sushma Swaraj, all of whom are leaders from Haryana, were conspicuous by their absence as the BJP elected its first chief ministerial candidate.

This is the first time that the BJP will form its own government in the state. The party won only four assembly seats in the 2009 polls.

Results of the Haryana assembly elections were historic for the BJP as the party romped home with 47 legislators.

The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) followed with 19 legislators, while the Congress, which was in power since March 2005, managed to get only 15 seats. Two seats went to the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), one each to Shiromani Akali Dal and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Five Independent candidates were also elected.