After Hooda broke the Lal myth, Khattar breaks the jat myth in state’s politics
Deevakar Anand | October 21, 2014
Of all the good and the bad things that Bhupinder Singh Hooda would be remembered for during his two consecutive terms since 2005 as chief minister, one of the most significant was the wiping off of the ‘Aaya Lal, Gaya Lal’ phase of Haryana politics. Till he took up the reins, the families of Bansi Lal, Choudhary Devi Lal and Bhajan Lal had been ruling the roost for years.
BJP’s Manohar Lal Khattar, 60, who is going to be sworn in as the chief minister on October 26, likewise, breaks another metaphor that Haryana politics has been identified with for long: “Party koi bhi ho, CM to jat he hoga” (whichever be the party, the CM in Haryana will be a jat), had become a well-accepted political reality in the past 18 years in Haryana since Bhajan Lal, a non-jat, demitted office on May 9, 1996. Khattar as CM breaks that widely talked-about Choudhar (the local word for clan) domination in Haryana, which has been administered by jat CMs since 1996.
Hailing from the Punjabi community, Khattar emerges as the BJP central leadership’s choice over three other strong contenders: Captain Abhimanyu, an emerging jat leader and a Harvard graduate who won from Narnaud constituency, five-time MLA and BJP state president Ram Bilas Sharma, Gurgaon MP and union minister Rao Inderjit Singh, who had left the Congress just before the Lok Sabha elections, and Faridabad MP Krishan Pal Gujjar.
Khattar, who won the Karnal assembly constituency, entered active politics after being an RSS leader for 40 years and is said to be close to prime minister Narendra Modi. Unmarried and an influential RSS pracharak for long, he headed the BJP’s Lok Sabha campaign committee for Haryana, where the party won seven of the 10 seats this summer.
It is his organisational skills that the BJP hopes to rely on in the coming months and years to strengthen the cadre base in Haryana, where the party and the RSS don’t have a substantial foothold. Before the latest assembly elections BJP held only four of the 90 seats in Haryana.
Prior to this election, many called BJP a Grand Trunk Road party in Haryana for having influence only in urban clusters along the National Highway 1.
Thus, besides, working for the state, Khattar is also a fitting party resource to help BJP strengthen its organisation in Haryana. BJP’s historic 47–seat win in the state in this election is due to the ‘Modi’ card that the party played heavily besides strong anti-incumbency against the 10-year rule of Congress which was mired in allegations of corruption and controversial land-deals.
Khattar’s election as CM may have upset leaders such as Rao Inderjit, an influential Yadav leader from Rewari who enjoys considerable support in the Ahirwal belt of south Haryana. Inderjit left Congress after being in the party for close to 36 years due to differences with Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Inderjit accused Hooda of concentrating Haryana’s development in his backyard – the jat-dominated areas around Rohtak- Jhajjar–Sonepat while neglecting south Haryana.
It will be in Haryana’s interest that Khattar works towards the state’s overall development. In a way, for him personally, this will ensure he doesn’t make detractors within the party, a blunder Hooda had committed to create a crop of rebels like Rao Inderjit, Choudhary Birendra, captain Ajay Yadav, Kiran Choudhary and others.
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