His appointment as the new Lieutenant Governor of the union territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir will be the most challenging job of his political career for Manoj Sinha who has to perform the difficult task of handling the threat of terrorism, cleansing the administration and also give a political touch to the Raj Bhavans in Jammu and Srinagar where the narratives are diametrically conflicting.
Appointment of Sinha as the new Lt. Governor of the sensitive UT is being seen as a move of the Modi government to give a new political touch to the Raj Bhavan here. He was once a contender for the post of UP’s chief minister and was a minister at the centre.
Sinha is the second politician in the past 55 years to occupy the Raj Bhavan here. Before him, another politician from UP, Satyapal Malik was appointed Governor but his tenure too remained brief as he was shifted to Goa when the status of J&K was reduced to that of a UT on 5 August last year following the abrogation of the Article 370. The state, since 1965 when the nomenclature of the Sarad-e-Riyasat was changed to that of Governor, had retired Army generals or bureaucrats as Governor.
Sinha is considered close to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah and enjoys their confidence as he was a grassroots politician and headed the student wing of the BJP at the age of 23. His appointment is being seen as an effort to fill the political vacuum that was being felt in J&K following the dissolution of the Assembly and winding up of the legislative council.
The sudden exit of GC Murmu within nine months of being appointed the first Lt. Governor of J&K is believed to have triggered due to his recent two controversial statements that caused embarrassment for the Modi government.
The reason for the surprise exit of Murmu on Wednesday afternoon was not officially known but the immediate trigger seems to be his media comments on the restoration of 4G internet service that was an embarrassment for the Home Ministry that had taken an opposite stand on the issue in the Supreme Court. Murmu also faced a serious controversy when he was recently snubbed by the election commission on his remarks on the timing of the Assembly elections in the UT. Moreover, he miserably failed to clean the mess in the administration and took U-turn on many major decisions that triggered controversy.
Appointment of Sinha is being seen by Kashmir-centric politicians as a step of the centre to consolidate the BJP here.
A former chief minister and National Conference (NC) leader, Omar Abdullah tweeted; “In a strange coincidence both the last Governor of J&K state & the 1st Lt Governor of the Union Territory of J&K have been removed when they least expected it. They both had a full schedule of meetings planned when they got the order to pack & leave rather unceremoniously.
Last night there were one or two names that people were circulating as a done deal & this name wasn’t among them. You can always trust this government to pull an unexpected name out of the hat contrary to anything the “sources” had planted earlier”.
A former PDP minister, Naeem Akhtar, retweeted a tweet of a party leader Firdaus Tak; “I am looking for a finger donor becoz new LG had once said, “if any finger is pointed at a BJP worker, within four hours that finger will not be salamat (safe).” This is sahi main Apna Banda”.
Union minister Jitendra Singh tweeted; “Spoke to Shri @manojsinhabjp ji and congratulated him on being appointed as Lieutenant Governor of #JammuAndKashmir . He carries with him a rich combination of both political as well as administrative experience”.