Following its victory in the Haryana assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party is all set to appoint Manohar Lal Khattar as the state's new chief minister. 

The 60-year-old former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak was unanimously elected to become the state's first BJP chief minister by the party's 47 newly elected MLAs. A Khatri by caste, Khattar will be the first non-Jat chief minister in the Jat-dominated state in 18 years. 

Khattar’s name was proposed by state president Ram Bilas Sharma, said Dinesh Sharma, a party vice president who attended a meeting in a guest house in Chandigarh on Tuesday to choose the chief minister. Venkaiah Naidu, the central urban development minister, was also present.

Sharma claimed that Khattar "is a visionary leader and will develop Haryana like no other government in the past". He added, "He is also a very honest man.”  

Challenges ahead 

The new chief minister will have quite a task managing a state that has deep and complex caste-divisions. To begin with, he will have to win the confidence of the BJP's local Jat leaders who are unhappy with the party's senior leadership for choosing a non-Jat leader.

Khattar was born in Nigana village in Rohtak to a shopkeeper who had migrated to India during the Partition. After finishing school in Rohtak, he moved to Delhi and ran a shop in Sadar Bazaar while studying for an undergraduate degree at Delhi University. 

He joined the RSS at the age of 23. Three years later, Khattar became a full-time pracharak, a role  he continued to play until he was appointed chairman of BJP's Haryana election committee for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. 

Khattar joined the BJP in 1994, even as he continued to work for the RSS. In 2000, he was appointed as the organisational general secretary of BJP in Haryana. He held that portfolio until he was made chairman in 2014. 

The Haryana assembly elections were the first-time that Khattar has ever run for public office. He defeated his nearest opponent by 63,736 votes. 

According to a official who did not want to be identified, Khattar is particularly close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This could probably be the reason why Modi kick-started the Haryana election campaign from Kattar's Karnal constituency on October 15.

Past controversies 

Like an ideal RSS worker, Khattar is conservative on issues like women's rights, pre-marital sex and Khap panchayats. During his election campaign, Khattar had blamed women for India's rising number of rapes.

“If a girl is dressed decently, a boy will not look at her in the wrong way," Khattar had said. When asked whether young people should have freedom of choice, he replied, “If you want freedom, why don't they just roam around naked? Freedom has to be limited. These short clothes are western influences. Our country's tradition asks girls to dress decently.”

He said pre-marital sex occurred when the minds of girls and boys "are not on the right track" .

During his campaign, Khattar also expressed support for Khap panchayats ‒  unofficial village bodies that dispense justice in some parts of North India. The politician had said that Khap rulings are justified as they are only trying to maintain Indian traditions and culture in the state.