Manohar Lal Khattar, who is stated to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was on Tuesday unanimously elected Leader of the BJP Legislature Party, paving the way for his becoming the first Chief Minister of the saffron party in Haryana.
60-year-old Khattar is also the first Punjabi to become the Chief Minister of the state.
He was elected Leader of BJP LP at a meeting of 47 newly elected MLAs at the Chandigarh UT Guest House, party Vice President Dinesh Sharma, who attended the meeting along with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu as central observers.
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 the Prime Minister and BJP chief Amit Shah.
Sharma said that the date of swearing in ceremony of the party’s first government will be announced soon.
Another aspirant for the post of Chief Minister Haryana BJP President Ram Bilas Sharma told that he had proposed Khattar’s name, which was seconded by several MLAs including another aspirant Abhimanyu and Prem Lata (wife of Birender Singh who joined the BJP from Congress recently).
Sharma said that they would meet Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki to stake claim for formation of the government.
BJP leader and Chandigarh MP Kirron Kher was also present at the meeting.
With Khattar’s election, Haryana will get a non-Jat Chief Minister after 18 years.
Bhajan Lal was the last non-Jat Chief Minister who held office from 1991 to 1996. After his exit Bansi Lal, Om Parkash Chautala (twice) and Bhupinder Singh Hooda (twice) were the Chief Ministers.
The saffron party won 47 seats while the rest were shared by INLD 19, INC 15, HJC-BL two, one each of BSP and SAD and five Independents.
Immediately after his election, Khattar along with Naidu, Sharma and other leader went to the Haryana Raj Bhawan and staked claim to form the government.
Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki accepted the claim and invited the BJP to form the government.
The swearing-in ceremony will be held on October 26 at Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex at Panchkula in Haryana, about 25 Kms from the state capital.
BSP, which is not part of the BJP-led NDA at the Centre, however, gave a letter of support to the BJP to the Governor.
BSP’s Tek Chand Sharma was the lone party legislator to be elected from Prithla Assembly constituency defeating his nearest rival BJP’s Nayan Pal Rawat by 1179 votes.
Three Independent MLAs Ravinder Machrouli (Samalkha), Rais Khan (Punhana) and Dinesh Kaushik (Pundri) also handed over to the Governor their letters extending support to the BJP.