Majid Kapra

Sinha promises direct dialogue, inclusive development, corruption-free governance

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New LG administered oath of office by CJ Gita Mittal

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir administration will soon initiate “direct dialogue” with the people to end the situation of uncertainty and the “menace of terrorism”, the union territory’s new Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said on Friday soon after being sworn in.

The 61-year-old, a former Union minister who resigned from basic membership of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), was administered the oath of office by Jammu and Kashmir High Court Chief Justice Gita Mittal at a simple function in the Raj Bhavan, said his priority would be taking forward the developmental initiatives launched during the last one year and establishing dialogue with the people in the union territory, carved out of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir last year.

“August 05 is a very important day in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. After years of isolation, Jammu and Kashmir joined the national mainstream. I have been told that many works which could not be completed in years have been completed in the past one year,” Sinha told reporters after taking oath.

“I want to accelerate that development,” he added.

On August 05, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 was revoked and the state bifurcated into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Interacting with the media immediately after the oath ceremony, the Lt Governor said that Jammu and Kashmir embarked on a new journey on 5th of August 2019, when it was “fully integrated with the Union of India, ending a long era of isolation, discrimination and lack of development.”

Because of its geographical, climatic, cultural and ethnic diversity, Jammu and Kashmir is like a colourful bouquet and truly called the crown of India, he said and added that he would take the developmental agenda forward without discrimination with any section or region.

“The people of Jammu and Kashmir have suffered a lot in the past. The new dawn promises hope, optimism, and bright future for them.

“J&K has also achieved tremendous results in some of the programmes and schemes during the last one year, I have learnt. I am hopeful that I will be able to carry forward the agenda of development, inclusiveness and restoration of peace in the UT of J&K, which has been initiated in the last one year,” he added.

The Lt Governor further said that he would like to see Jammu & Kashmir free from militancy and isolation. “We will work within the framework of the Constitution of India to take J&K towards inclusive development and peace. We will also initiate dialogue with the masses to have a better understanding of their problems and issues, and will try to address the same,” he said in a reply to a question.

“I assure the people of J&K that I will try to come up to their expectations and take J&K forward on the vision and mission of making this UT a model to emulate,” he added.

Sinha also pitched for peace and stability and said the powers of the Constitution will be used for the betterment of the people and the development of Jammu and Kashmir.

“We need to establish a dialogue with the common people of Jammu and Kashmir. We don’t have any agenda in that. There will be no discrimination against anyone. Constitution will be Gita in that,” he said.

Sinha said the process of direct dialogue with the people will start in a few days.

“There should be peace and stability in Jammu and Kashmir. The situation of uncertainty should end, terrorism should end. Achieving all this along with accelerated development will be our aim, our mission,” the Lieutenant Governor said.

Less than 150 people were invited for the swearing-in ceremony. Social distancing norms were observed with all invitees seated away from each other and everyone wearing masks in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sinha and the Chief Justice briefly took off their masks for the oath-taking.

Sinha succeeds former IAS officer Girish Chandra Murmu, who resigned on Wednesday night and was appointed Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on Thursday.

Some senior BJP leaders including Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region; Minister of State, Prime Minister`s Office , J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina, former deputy chief minister Dr Nirmal Singh and others were also present on the occasion.

The National Conference (NC) stayed away from the ceremony for which both Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah were invited.

The NC has said the process of democracy should begin by releasing their detained leaders as well as former chief minister and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti.

“On August 05, we were not allowed to meet. Two days later, we are asked to participate in the oath taking ceremony,” an NC leader said.

Advisors to the previous Lieutenant Governor, including Farooq Khan and Baseer Khan, as well as senior bureaucrats and policemen were present at the function in the Raj Bhavan, at the foothills of the Zaberwan range.

Rajya Sabha member Nazir Ahmed Laway, BJP Lok Sabha member Jugal Kishore Sharma and Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party leader Ghulam Hasan Mir were also present.

Sharma, who is known for his connect with people, particularly in rural areas, will have to tackle several pressing issues. He will have to work towards ending factionalism within the bureaucracy in the union territory, with some senior IAS officers recently found to be publicly indulging in verbal spats.

He will also have to focus his attention on the state intelligence department, which has of late failed to anticipate events. In the last three days, a Panchayat member and a Sarpanch have been attacked in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district in two separate incidents.

Known in some circles as ‘vikas purush’ (development man), Sinha is a three-time Lok Sabha MP who was minister of state for communication in 2016 when the telecom industry was engaged in the sale of spectrum. He was elected to the lower house for the first time in 1996 and then in 1999 and 2014. However, he lost the election from Ghazipur in 2019.

A B.Tech in civil engineering from the Institute of Technology (now known as IIT-BHU), Sinha has been credited with overcoming the menace of call dropping by holding widespread consultations with telecom operators.

Sinha, an agriculturist, is the first politician to be nominated LG of the union territory.

The Centre had earlier appointed Satya Pal Malik, a politician, as governor of the erstwhile state.

Sinha was a frontrunner for the post of Uttar Pradesh chief minister after the party walked away with 265 seats in the 403-member assembly in 2017.

Born in Mohanpura in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur district, he began his political career after being elected president of the Banaras Hindu University Students Union in 1982. (With PTI inputs)

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