NEW DELHI: Former Union minister and senior BJP leader Manoj Sinha’s appointment as the new Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor on Thursday took many by surprise. However, sources say Sinha was handpicked for the job by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fill the prevailing “political vacuum” in the Union Territory.
His appointment is seen as an attempt to win Kashmiri people’s hearts. Sources said that the PM and the top leadership believe that Sinha, with his political as well as administrative experience, would be able to convey government’s programmes in a better manner to the Kashmiris. He reached Srinagar on Thurday and will take charge on Friday after a low-key oath-taking ceremony.
Sinha expected to be more accessible to J&K public, control bureaucracy
As minister of state for railways and telecommunication in the previous NDA government, Sinha demonstrated patience to listen to officials, trusting them to get the work done. His office was visited by hundreds of people from his native Uttar Pradesh on a daily basis and Sinha would give all a patient hearing.
“The President has been pleased to appoint Shri Manoj Sinha, to be the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir with effect from the date he assumes charge of his office vice Shri Girish Chandra Murmu,” a statement issued by President Ram Nath Kovind’s office said on Thursday.
According to sources, Sinha’s low-profile image, nonaggressive approach, ability to reach out to a cross-section of people and his excellent track record as a telecom minister who managed to push the Prime Minister’s programmes made him a clear choice for the job.
There is also hope that Sinha will be able to take control of the bureaucracy, something Murmu apparently could not as he is understood to have had differences with chief secy BVR Subramanian.
Sinha’s appointment is in contrast to former Governor Satyapal Malik and Murmu. The former hit headlines with his utterances while the latter busied in operationalising the nitty-gritty of diluting Article 370.
A three-time Bharatiya Janata Party member of Parliament from Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh, Sinha was one of the few ministers who lost the election despite the Modi wave.
Talk of him being rehabilitated in the party started in June after Home Minister Amit Shah sent Sinha and party leader and spokesperson Baijayant Panda to Manipur to defuse the political crisis there.
Sources said BJP president JP Nadda was keen to include Sinha at a senior position in his team but the PM communicated that he had other plans for Sinha. Sinha got to know of his new assignment only last evening.
Sources attributed Murmu’s sudden exit to his discord with the civil administration, especially the chief secy, and his inability to command the confidence of the bureaucracy in the newly formed Union Territory. Also, Murmu’s recent comments on the restoration of 4G internet services in the UT against the wishes of the Centre caused quite a stir.