Khattar quits, Saini becomes new Haryana Chief Minister

Chandigarh, Mar 12 (UNI) In a dramatic turn of events, Nayab Singh Saini took over as the new Haryana Chief Minister on Tuesday, hours after Manohar Lal Khattar stepped down from the post, as the five-year-old BJP-JJP coalition crumbled amidst speculation of a tussle over seat-sharing for the Lok Sabha polls.

Fifty-four-year Saini, the state president of the BJP, took the oath of office and secrecy from Governor Bandaru Dattatreya at the Raj Bhawan along with five other ministers in the evening.

Khattar, who resigned earlier in the day, senior state BJP leaders, top officials and other dignitaries were present at the swearing-in.

On a day of fast-paced political developments, Khattar put in his papers, ending the BJP-Jannayak Janata Party alliance, which had been ruling the state since the 2019 Assembly election results.

According to sources, the dispute was triggered by the JJP’s demand for two of the ten Lok Sabha seats in the state – Hisar (from where BJP MP Brijendra Singh recently quit the party and joined the Congress) and Bhiwani-Mahendragarh. The BJP was not inclined to give a single seat to the JJP.

Soon after the 69-year-old Khattar went to the Raj Bhawan and submitted his papers, the BJP legislature party met and elected Saini – the Lok Sabha member from Kurukshetra and an OBC leader – unanimously as its leader.

Saini then met the Governor and staked his claim to form the government.

“I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, (BJP) National President JP Nadda, BJP Haryana state in-charge Biplab Deb and former Chief Minister ML Khattar, all the MLAs and independent MLAs on being elected leader of the BJP Legislative Party unanimously.” Saini posted on X (formerly Twitter).

The ministers who took oath after Saini are Kunwarpal Gujjar, Moolchan Sharma, Ranjit Singh Chautala, Jaiprakash Dalal and Banwari Lal.

“I am very happy that Saini has been given this responsibility. I have known him closely for a long time. Haryana has got a young chief minister. I am sure he will do well,” said Khattar after the swearing-in ceremony. There is speculation that the BJP may pit the veteran leader as its candidate from the Karnal LS seat.

The BJP has 41 seats in the 90-member Haryana Assembly and is likely to bank on some independents to get a majority in the Assembly. There are also speculations that they could be a split in the 10-member JJP legislature party.

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