He toiled on the ground, almost silently, to build the party organnisation, for the last four decades till he was selected by his party leadership, to head the first BJP government in Haryana.
He talks less, but always a tough taskmaster. Due to his serious nature, he was jokingly called ‘Headmaster Saab’ by his friends, during his younger days.
This is the man, the sixty year-old RSS Pracharak, a bachelor, who is known for his humble lifestyle and spotless image, despite being a first-time MLA got the job to lead the State, in the face of big challengers for the post.
His proximity to Narendra Modi, of course, helped.
Narendra Modi began his election campaign for Haryana Assembly polls this time, through his first rally on October 4 at Karnal. The constituency from where Khattar was contesting. But it is his repute of a tough task master, his no-nonsense attitude, silent working style behind-the-scenes, working on every major position assigned by the party, showing exemplary borganisational skills, ultimately got the due.
This was obvious. For Haryana Lok Sabha elections of 2014, Manohar Lal Khattar was appointed the Chairman of State Election Campaign Committee. This bore fruit, bringing unprecedented success, giving it seven out of eight seats it contested!
So it was ultimately Khattar’s name, which was cleared as the Chief Minister in the BJP’s Legislature Party meet. Small wonder, four out of the six of his Cabinet Ministers were being speculated as front-runners for the CM’s post. Ramvilas Sharma, Captain Abhimanyu, Anil Vij, and Om Prakash Dhankar!
And, among all the Ministers in his Cabinet, Manohar Lal Khattar is the poorest with just Rs. 8.6 lakh worth assets, including his ancestral property in the village. This summerises the man!
According to his affidavit submitted to the Election Commission, Manohar Lal Khattar’s financial asset ammounts to Rs 8.89 lakh, including 20 Kanal of agricultural land and a 150-sq yard house in Banyani village in Kalanaur, of Rohtak district.
His liabilities are of Rs 6 lakh, and as the income tax payee, his total income for 2013-14 was Rs 2, 73,315. He does not own any motor vehicle, and earns his living through ‘agriculture and by tuition work’.
Just three months ago, when as a low-key political leader, he moved into his rented house, No.216, in New Prem Nagar locality of Karnal, he was hardly known! But even after his win with a huge margin of 63,773 votes, from Karnal, and becoming the CM, he is as humble as before.
Though he has now moved from his Spartan accommodation in Karnal to heavily-guarded, sprawling twin-bungalow complex of CM’s residence, in Chandigarh’s tony Sector Three, he is the first Chief Minister in the State, to stay at the CM’s residence without his family or relatives.
In a state which is known for its overshow of VVIP culture and despicable show of pomp and prestige, Khattar is an exception.
After becoming the Chief Minister, he himself has asked for reducing his security and impressive cavalcade to the basic requirement and requested his other colleagues in the cabinet to follow the same.
During the big swearing in ceremony, which was attended by the PM Narendra Modi and Party’s head honchos, at Panchkula, Khattar’s brothers and other family members sat like ordinary people in the general public gallery, though they had the choice to sit in the VIP gallery!
At a lunch hosted at the Chief Minister’s residence in Chandigarh, on the Grhapravesh ceremony, into his new house after the havan and puja, Khattar was seen standing in the queue with plate in his hand! He waited in the line patiently, for his turn like other party workers present, even as his colleagues and staff unsuccessfully tried to convince him to let the official butlers serve him food on the table.
Instead, he preferred to move around the hall, keenly interacting with his party colleagues and the staff, carrying the lunch on his plate, as any ordinary host!
An Ideal Pracharak
Like Narendra Modi, Manohar Lal Khattar believes in simplicity still, even in the corridors of high power. I have never seen any poll campign describing the candidate, in the way the election hoardings put on the roads of Karnal.
“Saadaa Jivan Uchcha Vichaar
Bhajapa Ke Manohar Lal!”
(Plain Living & High Thinking… that’s BJP candidate Manohar Lal!)
The fomer RSS Pracharak is not even a registered voter in the Karnal Assembly Constituency. He is a registered voter in the Kalanaur constituency of Rohtak.But when the party told him to stand for election, he obeyed. Having spent a lifetime in ground work at the grass root level, he leads a frugal lifestyle and doesn’t have much material demands.
“We never knew that this simple man would be the Chief Minister of our state”! The neighbours in the Prem Nagar locality in Karnal are still perplexed. But they have trust on his sincerity and hope that he will work for the development of of Karnal, as he had assured during his election campaign.
Remember that, Khattar has been active in his party since 1994 and held many importantant posts in the Party!
A Silent Worker
When studying in Delhi, Manohar Lal Khattar started taking interest in politics.
The Internal Emergency was declared in 1975 and at the same time, he came in touch with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
In January 1979, he attended the congregation of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) at Allahabad where he decided to lead his future life for the service of the nation.
He took the vow to remain a bachelor and ultimately became a RSS Pracharak. After 14 years of service to the Sangh, in the year 1994, he was moved to BJP as Party’s Organisational Secretary in Haryana. In the RSS, he worked under the leadership of the stalwart RSS ideologue Balasaheb Apte. Apte was the head of RSS’s Chunaav Sahayak Yojana.
In the BJP, Khattar played a crucial role in building party’s organisation in the states like Punjab, Haryana and Chhattisgarh. In the newly formed state of Chattisgarh he was able to form a formidable organistion for BJP, in an area traditionally dominated by Congress so far. BJP is reaping the results in the state, once initiated by Khattar.
Khattar had also headed Vajpayee’s pet project, the Antyodaya Yojana,BJP’s programme to elevate those in the lowest rung of society, nationally. In the year 1994 he was made the organisational secretary of Haryana BJP.
It was in 1996, when Khattar was avidly working in Haryana, he first began working with Narendra Modi, who was then the BJP in charge of the state.
In the state elections held a year after Narendra Modi was sent to Gujarat as the Chief Minister in 2001, Khattar was in charge of the party’s campaign in the Kutch region. It was a difficult assignment in a region devastated in 2001 by the Bhuj earthquake.But he was successful, in the hitherto Congress dominated region.
In 2002, Khattar was assigned to Jammu and Kashmir as the state’s election Incharge. In the year 2004, Khattar wad holding charge of 12 states, including Delhi and Rajasthan.
Thereafter, he was trusted with the responsibility as Sangathan Mahamantri for five northern states (and UT) – Haryana, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh. His tenure brought successes for BJP in many of these states.
Under his watch, BJP had won 11 seats for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir. For the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, Khattar was made the Chairman of Haryana Election Campaign Committee and was instrumental in the party’s stupendous success in which it won seven of the eight seats it contested from the state.
Khattar was also the in charge of 50 wards in Varanasi when Narendra Modi contested from the constituency this year.
Today, the man, whose parents once worked as the farm labourers and who once struggled against all odds dreaming to become a Doctor, has become the first Chief Minister of Haryana from the Punjabi community, and the first non-Jat leader to occupy the highest post, after long 18 years.
Rooted Firmly To The Ground
After the partition, Manohar Lal Khattar’s family arrived in Haryana from Pakistan, penniless. The family settled at Nindana, a nondescript village in Haryana’s Rohtak district. To keep the wolf at bay, Manohar’s father and grandfather took up odd jobs includingthe jobs as farm labourers.
Eventually, the family was able to save enough money to start a small shop in the village. It was in Nindana where Manohar Lal Khattar was born in the year, 1954.
In the local school, Khattar was much ahead from others, in academics. Dreaming to pursue a medical degree, he opted applying for colleges, despite stiff opposition from his father who wanted him to take to farming like the rest of the family.
He borrowed some money from his mother and got himself enrolled in Rohtak’s Neki Ram Sharma Government College. Thus became the first member of his family to study beyond Class X.
To prepare for entrance tests to medical colleges, Manohar came to Delhi. Borrowed money from the relatives. But had to change his plan. The younger sister had to be married. Started selling clothes at Sadar Bazaar, the wholesale market in the older part of Delhi. Hard work and grit showed desired results, ultimately able to buy a small shop near Sadar Bazaar.
Repaid the borrowed money, got his younger sister married, and brought his two younger siblings to Delhi. In the mean time, he also completed his Graduation from Delhi University.
In the college, he started taking interest in politics and after the Internal Emergency was declared in 1975, he came in close contact with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). In 1980, he became a full time RSS Pracharak and never looked back, thereafter.
Contrary to the convetional image of a veteran RSS Pracharak, Manohar Lal Khattar is tech-savvy like his mentor Narendra Modi. He uses an Apple Laptop computer, maintains his Website and is equally active on social media network, including Twitter and Facebook.
His family is happy and proud these days, but he has never lived with his family for almost last four decades. Whenever he visited Rotak, his home district, he used to stay at the party office.
Even in Karnal, he has no home of his own. He says that the whole of India is his home. However he wants to build Karnal as the‘Smart City’. Unlike other Haryana politicians, he is not centred to a particulat city or a region. As a Pracharak and Party’s organisational head, he has become acquainted with every part of the state.
People of Haryana are expecting much from him.
By: Deep Basu