Panchkula: Manohar Lal Khattar, a 60-year-old RSS man and a first-time legislator, took oath as Haryana chief minister today in the presence of PM Narendra Modi.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and senior BJP leader LK Advani were some of the top leaders present at the swearing-in ceremony.
In a departure from the past, the venue for the oath-taking function was kept at Panchkula, which earlier used to be Chandigarh, the common capital of both Haryana and Punjab.
Mr Khattar is Haryana’s first non-Jat chief minister in 18 years; Jats have for long dominated politics in the state as the single biggest chunk of voters. In the days ahead, the party, which has won a majority on its own for the first time in Haryana, will have to do a balancing act.
Mr Khattar was elected at a meeting of the BJP’s new MLAs last week, edging out other contenders like Captain Abhimanyu, a Jat leader. He was reportedly favoured by the leadership for his clean image.
ML Khattar is an unmarried former RSS pracharak or functionary, who was deputed to the BJP 20 years ago. He has worked closely with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when the latter had charge of the state in the 90s. The PM began his Haryana campaign from Karnal, ML Khattar’s constituency.
Last Sunday, the BJP created history by coming to power on its own for the first time in Haryana, since its inception in 1966.
In the 90-member Haryana Assembly, the BJP bagged 47 seats, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) won 19 seats and its ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) got one, the Congress won 15 seats, Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC BL) won two seats, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) managed one seat and five seats went to independent candidates.