Manohar Lal Khattar appointed Union Power Minister in the new government

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New Delhi, Jun 10 (PTI) RSS pracharak and Haryana's former chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar has been appointed as power minister in the newly-formed Union Cabinet of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, an official statement said on Friday.

Khattar will replace R K Singh who lost elections from Arrah in Bihar.

Shripad Yesso Naik, who won the Lok Sabha election from North Goa, has been appointed as the Minister of State for Ministries of Power and New & Renewable Energy.

As power minister Khattar will have to deal with various issues including high power demand and coal supply issues faced by power producers across the country.

The power demand has already touched an all-time high of 250 GW in May this year. Earlier, the power ministry had projected that peak power demand was estimated to touch 260 GW during this summer season.

Many power plants have been maintaining coal stock at lower than normative levels.

Khattar would have to work in close coordination with the ministries of coal as well as railways to ensure adequate supply of dry fuel at all power stations across the country.

The coal-based thermal power still serves the base load to the national grid, despite having over 190 GW of renewable energy including large hydro (25 MW or above each plant).

Khattar defeated Divyanshu Budhiraja of Indian National Congress in Karnal constituency during the latest general election.

In 2014, Khattar became the MLA for the first time and took over as Chief Minister of Haryana. In March 2024, he was replaced by his confidante Nayab Singh Saini.

According to some accounts, Khattar is considered close to Prime Minister Modi with whom he worked in the BJP during 1990s.

Khattar, a bachelor, worked for almost 40 years as an RSS pracharak.

In 1996, Khattar started working with Modi, who was then the BJP in-charge of Haryana.

Coming from an agricultural background, his family arrived in Haryana from Pakistan post-partition. His family settled at Nindana, a village in Haryana's Rohtak district. He was born in Nindana in 1954.

In 2014, when the BJP formed the government in Haryana on its own for the first time, Khattar became the state's first non-Jat chief minister in nearly two decades, fracturing Jats' longstanding domination in the state's politics.

During his first stint as chief minister, Khattar came under criticism over his handling of the February 2016 Jat quota stir, which saw large-scale violence and arson in several parts of the state.

The stir was followed by a flurry of violent incidents which claimed many lives in 2017, when Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted by a court in Panchkula in a rape case.

For his second stint as CM, which lasted four-and-a-half years, the BJP had to take support of JJP after it fell short of majority in 2019 assembly polls.

Khattar's second stint also saw his government face criticism over farmers' stir against now-repealed farm laws.

During his two stints as chief minister, Khattar was credited with the decision to introduce pre-qualification conditions for the candidates contesting panchayat elections and ensuring transparent recruitment.

He also introduced the 'Parivar Pehchan Patra' scheme, under which the Haryana government issues every family a unique family identity.

Khattar was also credited for maintaining cordial relations with ally Jannayak Janta Party. However, JJP's tie-up with BJP ended after Khattar was removed from Haryana CM's post.

On the party's move to bring in Nayab Saini as CM in March, Khattar had said that the move was not sudden and that it was he who had suggested Saini's name to Modi more than a year ago.

"The reality is when I had served as the chief minister for eight to eight-and-a-half years, I myself told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that in any person's life if he hands over the baton to anyone on his own will, there cannot be a matter of greater happiness. I had said this to him about myself more than a year ago," Khattar had said.

Sworn in into the fresh Union Cabinet on Sunday, the BJP veteran now is set to begin his new innings as a parliamentarian and a Union Minister. PTI ABI KKS HVA