Manoj Sinha surprise pick as new J&K LG | India News – Times of India

Former central minister Manoj Sinha (PTI photo)

NEW DELHI: BJP veteran and former central minister Manoj Sinha was appointed lieutenant governor of Jammu & Kashmir in a surprise move after the abrupt exit of G C Murmu on Wednesday.
The 61-year-old is seen to enjoy a rapport with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and comes across as an affable politician with a reputation for getting things done.
He will be the first politician to be appointed LG in the newly formed Union territory and his track record as in-charge of the communications ministry and as MoS railways in Modi 1.0 indicates that he is seen as someone with experience in infrastructure development besides bringing a political touch to the office that might be needed whenever assembly polls are held in J&K.
Sinha lost the 2019 Lok Sabha election from Ghazipur to BSP’s Afzal Ansari, who was backed by the Samajwadi Party, in a contest where caste trumped the goodwill he had earned by implementing a string of development projects. The assignment suggests that the loss did not dim his standing before the PM.
A three-time MP, Sinha is an engineer and a product of Banaras Hindu University, where he was elected president of the students’ union. Known for his relaxed manner, Sinha is seen to have the skills for an outreach that will be needed with the progressive release of political leaders in the UT and restoration of the normal political process.
Sinha arrived in Srinagar soon after his appointment was announced and is likely to take oath on Friday. His experience and access to the top BJP leadership can be expected to place him on a better footing while engaging with political parties and leaders in the Valley and in Jammu.
The assignment will, however, test Sinha, as some of his predecessors have discovered. Development tasks are not easy to implement in the face of resistance from terrorists and separatists and the political cauldron in the UT remains in a state of ferment. The near-constant efforts of Pakistan to destablise the region and prevent normalcy, particularly in the aftermath of the nullification of Article 370 and the decision to divide J&K into two UTs, present a unique set of challenges different from the political assignments Sinha has handled.
A Rashtrapati Bhavan communique said, “The President has been pleased to appoint Manoj Sinha to be the lieutenant governor of Jammu & Kashmir with effect from the date he assumes charge of his office.”
Sinha was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1996, 1999 and 2014. Previously, the Centre had deputed former Union minister Satya Pal Malik as governor of the erstwhile J&K state. He was seen as an unconventional choice and often spoke his mind freely with mixed results.
Sinha was also in contention for the UP chief minister’s post but BJP chose Yogi Adityanath.

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