Srinagar: Former Union Minister Manoj Sinha was sworn in as the second Lt Governor of Jammu and Kashmir here on August 7, a year after the erstwhile state was divided into two union territories and the region’s semi-autonomous status changed with the abrogation of Article 370 last year on August 5.
Sinha, a three-time Lok Sabha MP who has also served as the minister for communication and minister of state for railways, took oath as the new LG of J&K at a ceremony held at Raj Bhavan in Srinagar.
In his maiden address at the governor’s house, Sinha said he would soon initiate a dialogue with the people of the region and work towards the development of the newly created union territory.
Calling for uncertainty to end, the 61-year-old BJP leader, who replaced G C Murmu following his resignation from the post earlier on Wednesday, also called for an end to “terrorism” in the valley.
Murmu, who formerly held the post of J&K’s LG for nearly a year, has been appointed as the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in New Delhi.
After Satya Pal Malik, who was appointed as the governor of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2018, Sinha is the second political leader in the last two years to occupy Raj Bhavan. Jammu and Kashmir was under President’s rule after the People’s Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance ended in June 2018 until it was revoked with the bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two UTs.
Since then, the region has witnessed a tumultuous phase mired in social, political and economic instability.
Also read: People of Kashmir Are Living in Shock: Tarigami Reflects on the Year Without Article 370
The regional political parties including the former BJP-ally PDP has vehemently opposed last year’s mover and its leaders along-with scores of other including three former chief ministers were arrested in what the government termed as a “preventive measure” in order to carry the decision of 370’s abrogation.
Meanwhile, the mainstream political landscape, which doesn’t include separatist groups like Hurriyat Conference, is undergoing a redrawing. The leaders of these political parties like National Conference and PDP have been forced to accept and submit to the new political reality of the restive region.
None of the Lok Sabha MPs from the three parliamentary constituencies of the Valley participated in the swearing-in ceremony of the new LG.
NC member of Parliament from Anantnag constituency, Hasnain Masoodi, believes the “change of faces will not have any consequences.”
“What needs to change is the attitude and approach. Unless there is a genuine attempt to redress the grievances of people, it will not make any difference. The move on August 5 last year was a massive assault on democracy and in order to move ahead the pre-August 5 position has to be restored,” MP Masoodi told NewsClick.
While many see this new appointment as the Centre extending an olive branch by appointing a political face like Sinha to the office of LG, Masoodi believes appointing a career bureaucrat or someone who is “apolitical or neutral,” would have sent a positive signal to people here.
“The former LG remained aloof from politics and the new belongs to a political party. We still have to wait and watch how things unfold but, as long as the basic issues of people are unaddressed, things are not going to change. There is a massive disapproval of people against what has been done here,” Masoodi said.
BJP’s Kavinder Gupta, who was the former deputy chief minister of J&K during the PDP-BJP coalition government, however, called the appointment of a political face as a “welcome sign.”
“Mr Sinha is a tall leader who has a political expertise and there is a need to revive a political process in the region. There are challenges and someone from a political background understands how to involve people from the grassroots throughout the political system,” Gupta said.
Unlike his predecessors, Sinha is active on social media platform Twitter, where he has been seen engaging with his followers often. He, however, tweets and responds mostly in Hindi, a language not many people know in the Valley.
It may be mentioned that Sinha, who lost an election from Ghazipur’s seat in UP against BSP’s Afzal Ansari in April 2019, had earlier made a controversial remark when he had threatened that anyone pointing a finger at BJP workers will have to pay for it within "four hours".