LUCKNOW/NEW DELHI: Newly-appointed Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha has been a low-profile politician from Ghazipur in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
The civil engineer and an IIT-BHU alumnus has been a member of Parliament thrice from Ghazipur and is known as a ‘vikas purush’ (development-oriented man) who combines administrative acumen with political understanding.
He was a junior minister at the Centre holding the communication and railway portfolios in the first tenure of the NDA government. Sinha oversaw the developmental work in Modi’s parliamentary constituency, Varanasi. In the railway ministry, he was an apprentice to Cabinet minister Suresh Prabhu.
With Prabhu delegating day-to-day administrative responsibility to him, Sinha rose in the esteem of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he was soon rewarded with the additional responsibility of Minister of State for Communication with independent charge.
As the telecom minister, he oversaw the sale of spectrum by the telecom ministry in 2016 and actively took up call drops issue. His performance enabled him to gain the Prime Minister’s confidence and managed direct access to the Prime Minister’s Office. With a clean image, Sinha has been away from controversies.
An agriculturalist at heart and a silent performer, Sinha was among the best performing MPs in the 13th Lok Sabha in 1999.
Sinha successfully fought his first Lok Sabha election in 1996 from the Ghazipur constituency and repeated the victory in 1999. His third victory came in 2014. In 2019, Sinha sought reelection from the same constituency on his development credentials, not heeding to party’s advice to opt for a safe seat and even saying no to polarising election slogans. But he lost to local strongman Afzal Ansari, a joint candidate of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party.
In the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections of 2017, he was the party’s star campaigner. Sinha was the frontrunner for the post of UP chief minister following the party’s sweep in the state. But at the last moment, the party picked the incumbent Yogi Adityanath. Born on July 1, 1959 in Mohanpura of Ghazipur, Sinha, a Bhumihar by caste, took a plunge in politics by getting elected as the president of the Banaras Hindu University Students Union in 1982.
He was then an active member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. He rose to become a member of the BJP national council from 1989 to 1996. As a parliamentarian, he has been a member of a committee on energy and also on government assurances.
Sinha’s appointment as the J&K Lt Governor has come exactly a year after the Centre abrogated the special status of the erstwhile state. His new assignment is seen as the BJP’s keenness to attach importance to the Bhumihars, who are strong in eastern UP and Bihar.