Khattar 2.0: Challenging times ahead for the minority government

Even though BJP has managed to get the numbers for forming the government in Haryana, running a minority government and keeping MLAs satisfied and under control will be a tall order for CM ML Khattar

Khattar 2.0: Challenging times ahead for the minority government

Yoginder Gupta

Manohar Lal Khattar is all set to form a government in Haryana, albeit a minority government, to be supported by Independent MLAs. Dushyant Chautala of the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), has expectedly jumped on his bandwagon in the interest of a stable government, as he says.

There is little doubt now that the Khattar Government 2.0 will survive the floor test and prove its majority in the House. What is clear though is that he would find his second term very challenging. During the first term, a greenhorn Khattar was able to stonewall the unjustified demands of his MLAs because he enjoyed unstinted support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In his second term, a weakened Khattar may not be able to withstand pressures.

It is widely believed in Haryana that BJP President Amit Shah was not very keen on Khattar. Shah wanted industrialist-turned-politician Capt Abhimanyu to be in the seat of Chief Minister. Reason was simple: Shah believed that the Captain could prove to be a milch cow for the party whereas nothing could be expected from Khattar, a hard core RSS man. Khattar became Chief Minister only because of the support of Modi.

Khattar and Modi were close when the latter used to work in Haryana for the BJP.

During the first one and a half years of Khattar’s term, party MLAs often raised a banner of revolt, only to be snubbed by the party high command.

After some time, Shah and Khattar worked out an arrangement which kept both happy. While Khattar was saved from doing “anything out of the way” for the party, Shah was able to send direct messages to officers of various key departments. After that there was no challenge to Khattar.

Khattar and his party had been claiming that the system of “parchi and kharchi”, prevalent in previous governments, was stopped in their government.

It is true that in recruitments, there was no direct interference, by and large, by the Chief Minister’s office in Khattar regime. This had made BJP MLAs very unhappy, but they were helpless.

But the situation would change now. Independent MLAs and JJP MLAs, who would support the minority Khattar government, would want their pound of flesh in every recruitment. They would also want officers of their choice to be posted in their areas. It is no secret that the officers, who are posted on political sifarish, oblige their patrons in every way. These MLAs would also put pressure on the Chief Minister to do various works, which would bring monetary benefits to these MLAs.

Khattar says there is no allegation of corruption against him. But can he claim the same for his colleagues and the bureaucracy? Visit any field office, one would find that there is a virtual rate list in all departments. People of Haryana have had no respite from corruption which affects their day to day life. If Khattar could not tackle this malice when he had majority support, he can hardly be expected to weed it out now.

Another big challenge Khattar would face will be in Cabinet formation. The JJP and the Independent MLAs would not be satisfied without ministerial posts. Since all cannot be adjusted, many would have to be given posts having ministerial status. The BJP MLAs would feel left out in this scenario. As time passes, resentment among the BJP MLAs and other workers may rise.

Khattar would have to change his style of functioning too. During the election campaign, BJP workers often complained that the chief minister and his ministers had become arrogant and didn’t give them a hearing.

The writing on the wall is clear: Manohar Lal Khattar would not find the going easy during his second term.

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Published: 25 Oct 2019, 7:04 PM