Chandigarh: In Haryana’s political arena, the name of BJP’s Manohar Lal Khattar, who is Haryana’s chief minister designate, does not ring a bell with many. The low-profile, ‘behind-the-scenes’ organisational man of the RSS and BJP is considered to be a no-nonsense man and a tough task master.
Khattar, 60, is all set to occupy the chief ministerial chair just two days after being elected a legislator in the first election that he contested.
Those known to him say that he is a “no-nonsense man”, “tough task master” and a man rooted in “organisational skills”.
Khattar claims that he never aspired to be the chief minister.
“I was never in that race. I am an organisational man. Whatever responsibility that the party puts on me, I will accept it and deliver,” he said in a recent television interview.
Though not by design or intention, Khattar has some things which are similar to those in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s life.
Khattar belongs to the Punjabi community in the Jat dominated politics of Haryana.
While Modi renounced family life to dedicate himself to the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), Khattar chose to be a bachelor and do the same. Impressed by the RSS, he got associated with it in 1977. He 1980, he joined the RSS full-time as ‘Pracharak’.
Like Modi, who was not even a legislator when he was made the Gujarat chief minister in 2001, Khattar contested and won his first election to become legislator only this week.
Khattar worked with Modi when the latter was in-charge of the BJP’s affairs in Haryana in the late 1990s. Khattar was called by Modi to work in the Kutch area of Gujarat after the devastating earthquake there in 2000. He worked for the BJP in several states, including Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and others.
Having dedicated his life to social and public service through the RSS for nearly four decades, Khattar remained a dedicated organisation man and held various positions and worked in several states.
In recent years, Khattar, who was shifted from the RSS to the BJP fold in 1994, has held important organisational positions and remained the party’s strategist and planner. He was made chairman of the state election campaign committee in Haryana after the BJP’s triumph in the Lok Sabha polls where the party returned with seven seats May this year.
Khattar has a knack for technology. His own website says about him: “Recognised for his political acumen, Manohar Lal has played the role of a master strategist and successfully led many electoral campaigns, the latest being the 2014 parliamentary elections in Haryana as chairman of election committee. He has been selflessly working behind the scenes in key party positions that have earned him the reputation of a tough task master with a no-nonsense approach and proven organisational skills.”
Coming from a humble family background – his father and grand-father took up odd jobs and even worked as labourers after migrating from West Punjab (now in Pakistan) in 1947 – Khattar was born in 1954 in Nindana village in Rohtak district of Haryana. His family first opened a shop in the village and later bought agricultural land and took to farming.
A keen student and debater, Khattar, the eldest son in the family, wanted to pursue a medical degree. He became the first person in his family to study beyond Class 10 and even went to Delhi to pursue further education to get into medical studies. However, he decided to get into business and opened a small shop in Delhi’s congested high-volume trading market Sadar Bazar, after borrowing money from his family.
While managing his new business venture, Khattar completed his graduation from Delhi University and helped establish his siblings.
Khattar’s life journey has been “against everything his family had planned for him”. “For the path that he chose, initially, the resistance from his parents was enormous,” his website claims.
The BJP, which has created history for itself by winning the majority in the just concluded assembly polls on its own in Haryana, has reposed faith for the top job in a man who is taking his first big step in the realm of full-time politics and administration.