A bachelor, ML Khattar worked for almost 40 years as an RSS pracharak

Chandigarh:

From a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker to being hand-picked as Chief Minister in 2014 to being replaced with his confidante a decade later, 70-year-old Manohar Lal Khattar has seen it all.

He joined the RSS as a permanent member in 1977 and stayed with it for 17 years before he was made a member of the BJP in 1994.

In 2014, he became an MLA for the first time and was tapped to become the Chief Minister of Haryana by the BJP. Ten years later, in March 2024, he was replaced by his confidante Nayab Singh Saini, to allow him a chance to become a Member of Parliament.

Contesting his first Lok Sabha polls from Karnal, ML Khattar defeated Congress’s Divyanshu Budhiraja by an impressive margin of over 2.35 lakh.

According to some accounts, Mr Khattar is considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who he worked with in the 1990s in the party organisation.

A bachelor, ML Khattar worked for almost 40 years as an RSS pracharak.

In 1996, he started working with Narendra Modi, who was then the BJP’s Haryana in-charge.

Coming from an agricultural background, his family arrived in Haryana from Pakistan post-Partition. His family settled at Nindana, a village in Haryana’s Rohtak district. He was born in Nindana in 1954.

In 2014, when the BJP formed the government in Haryana on its own strength for the first time, ML Khattar became the state’s first non-Jat Chief Minister in nearly two decades, fracturing the Jats’ longstanding domination of the state’s politics.

During his first stint as Chief Minister (2014-2019), Mr Khattar came under criticism over his handling of the February 2016 Jat quota stir, which saw large-scale violence and arson in several parts of the state.

The stir was followed by a flurry of violent incidents which killed many in 2017 when Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted by a court in Panchkula in connection with the rape of two of his disciples.

For his second stint as Chief Minister which lasted four-and-a-half years, the BJP had to take the Jannayak Janta Party’s support as it fell short of a majority in the 2019 assembly polls.

Mr Khattar’s second stay also saw his government face criticism over the farmers’ stir against the now repealed farm laws.

During his two stints as Chief Minister, Mr Khattar was credited with the decision to introduce pre-qualification conditions for the candidates contesting panchayat elections and ensuring transparent recruitment.

He also introduced the ‘Parivar Pehchan Patra’ scheme, under which the Haryana government issues a unique family identity to every family.

Mr Khattar was also in great part credited for maintaining cordial relations with ally JJP. However, JJP’s tie-up with BJP ended after Mr Khattar was replaced as the Chief Minister.

On the party’s move to bring in Nayab Saini as Chief Minister in March, Mr Khattar maintained the move was not sudden and that he had suggested Mr Saini’s name to PM Modi over a year ago.

“The reality is when I had served as the Chief Minister for eight to eight-and-a-half years, I myself told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that in any person’s life if he hands over the baton to anyone on his own will, there cannot be a matter of greater happiness. I had said this to him about myself more than a year ago,” Mr Khattar had said.

Sworn into the fresh Union Cabinet on Sunday, the BJP veteran now is set to begin his new innings as a parliamentarian and a Union Minister.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

By Alex Benjamin

Alex Benjamin, historian, quizmaster, and author, passionately explores history's depths. Renowned for unearthing forgotten facts, he's a quiz expert captivating audiences worldwide.

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