Once a rookie, Khattar proves his mettle in Jatland

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar (PTI  Photo)

Until 2014, not many had heard about him. He would work silently to aggrandize the philosophy of the Sangh at the grass-root. This RSS Parcharak surprised all when he turned out to be BJP’s wildcard entry and was seated as the chief minister of Haryana.

From tenderfoot in politics to an astute politician, 61-year old chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar has not failed the BJP.

The last 5-years under Khattar have been a dream run for the BJP in Haryana. This election in Jatland is fought as much around the Modi phenomenon as on the unblemished image and honest credentials of Khattar. “Mai bhi Manohar Lal” is a tagline increasingly popular in his electoral battleground of Karnal. Denials apart, the only curiosity that remains in Karnal is the margin of Khattar’s victory.  

His regime has arguably been an assortment of crafty real-politik and administrative prowess. As saffron party’s lynchpin, Khattar tenure remained unblemished on corruption, something his predecessor couldn’t escape on account of shady land deals galore. Unlike in the past, his term showed just how mass recruitments could be done without money changing hands.

Khattar focused on last-mile delivery of schemes and policies, both Centre’s flagship programmes and state’s own. All this may have possibly appeared mundane to the elite urban gentry, yet it accentuated the party’s groundswell even to the last of all. Khattar and his party consciously desisted from the temptation of competitive populism, something that echoed in its manifesto released a few days ago. BJP goes to poll broadcasting Khattar’s image, agenda and intent while modelling it around the ‘Modi spectacle’ that still holds sway over voters in Jatland.    

BJP’s footprint in Jatland is now widespread and well-entrenched. Khattar political craft was tested when he jumped into mainstream politics. As a non-Jat CM, the polarization of non-Jats, that wasn’t widespread or decisive in decades, was ever more profound under Khattar. The condescension with one dominant Jat community had started to ebb on the political landscape of Jatland. 

At the same time, Khattar did well to co-opt with the Jats ensuring a balance of power. He dispelled apprehensions of inequitable development that had plagued Haryana under previous regimes. But his ascend had its share of dissent even from his own colleagues. Khattar learnt his lessons from his initial hiccups on law and order and governance issues.   

 
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