Prominent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader for 40 years and considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mohanlal Khattar has been a chief ministerial candidate in Haryana in the run-up for the October 15 elections, preferring to build its campaign around PM Modi’s popularity. The unmarried former RSS pracharak, who was deputed to the BJP years ago, was chairman of the BJP’s campaign committee for Haryana in the Lok Sabha elections. The party won seven of the state’s 10 seats. Apart from sharing their RSS backgrounds, Khattar is also said to have worked closely with Modi, who had begun his Haryana campaign this year from Karnal, Khattar’s constituency.
He is the first leader from the BJP and also the first Punjabi to become the Chief Minister of the State. Manohar Lal Khattar was unanimously elected Leader of the BJP Legislature Party, paving the way for his becoming the first Chief Minister of the BJP in Haryana. Born in Rohtak district, he had contested the Assembly elections from Karnal. He won the Karnal seat with a margin of 63,736 votes. A well-known strategist, who has devised the strategy for both RSS and BJP, was appointed chairman of BJP’s Haryana election committee for the recent Lok Sabha elections. The party performed splendidly in the elections, winning 7 out of 10 Lok Sabha seats in the Jat-dominated state.
Another aspirant for the post of Chief Minister, Haryana BJP President Ram Bilas Sharma said 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). To-be CM of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar has many challenges before him. Caste politics and its dimensions, regional inequality in term of development, preference in government jobs to a particular region and a section of society are ‘satyata’ of Haryana. He has to work raising himself above all these, balancing all power centres in society, party and without favouring any one section. He should consider himself CM of whole Haryana and not the CM of a particular district or region. These allegations were leveled to previous Chief Ministers. He has no fears and apprehensions of Jat community-23% of Haryana’s population- in the absence of non-Jat CM, and winning and retaining the confidence of other communities like Brahamans, Punjabis, Baniyas, Gujjars, Ahirwals etc., Khattar should ensure rapid development to Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Panipat, Sonepat, Faridabad and Rohtak districts and then move to other districts. All those districts that supported BJP shall get major chunk of investment-infrastructure development and spread to neighbouring districts. Haryana needs to come out of Khap inanity. In recent times, the Khap system has attracted criticism from groups, citing the stark prejudice that such groups allegedly hold against others. Khaps are alleged to have initiated threats of murder and violence to couples who marry outside the circle. They are very brutal and conservative. This is wholly illegal and has to be ruthlessly stamped out. There is nothing honourable in honour killing or other atrocities. In fact, it is nothing but barbaric and shameful murder. Other atrocities in respect of the personal lives of people committed by brutal, feudal-minded persons deserve harsh punishment. Only this way we can stamp out such acts of barbarism and feudal mentality. Moreover, these acts take the law into their own hands, and amount to kangaroo courts, which are wholly illegal. For the development and growth of the state, such institutions with narrow minded approach need to be banned or booked for crime. Khap Panchayats are “self styled” decision makers.
Now, BJP is in power and they should encounter the powerful Khaps in Haryana and their regressive ways of functioning. This will be a real test of how responsibly and effectively it will be able to rein in these self-styled custodians of social norms. And, this will only be one of the challenges in this state with its poor social indicators and blighted urban development.
In past few years, Haryana has developed a lot in terms of economic infrastructure. Industrialisation will be the priority of the government and today it is one of the affluent states in India. The Hooda government has transformed the state into a ‘surplus state’. But infrastructural development does not guarantee socio-cultural changes. Economic changes are required but these are not the only changes required. What is required in the state is the all round development. To reach the next stage of development, the government needs to formulate new policies. Special attention is required in areas where people are faced with problems. Let’s hope, BJP government will bring changes to the state with its new state government.