ET Analysis: Why Manoj Sinha has his task cut out

But the problem really is how to sequence the process of delimitation, elections and statehood. And that’s the challenge for Sinha, whose appointment comes at a delicate moment, where radical elements are better poised than political entities.

Agencies
In many ways, Sinha’s entry into J&K is somewhat like Arjun Singh being handpicked from CM’s seat in MP and sent to Punjab as governor in 1985 to execute the Rajiv-Longowal accord and restore political normalcy.
New Delhi: The appointment of former Union minister Manoj Sinha, a heartland politician who enjoys the trust of the political leadership in Delhi, as the next lieutenant governor of J&K is a signal that the Centre wants to move firmly on restarting the political conversation, with an express intent to hold elections in the Union Territory.

But the problem really is how to sequence the process of delimitation, elections and statehood. And that’s the challenge for Sinha, whose appointment comes at a delicate moment, where radical elements are better poised than political entities. Worse, they are trying to inspire a fresh lot of homegrown militants to target newly elected panchayat leaders.

In many ways, Sinha’s entry into J&K is somewhat like Arjun Singh being handpicked from CM’s seat in MP and sent to Punjab as governor in 1985 to execute the Rajiv-Longowal accord and restore political normalcy. He couldn’t accomplish much as Longowal was assassinated within a month of Singh’s arrival and the accord was in smithereens soon after. Punjab then plunged into another phase of militancy, which was more brutal and local than before.


It’s instructive to note that between April 1982, starting with M Chenna Reddy, and April 1986, when Siddhartha Shankar Ray was appointed, six governors were changed. Singh himself lasted barely eight months.

So, if history is any guide, then Centre needs to tread cautiously with shuffling governors or in this case LGs. That time it was implementing a peace accord in a militancy-hit state, while now it’s an effort to carve out a new political normal after the withdrawal of Article 370 and scrapping of Article 35A.

To that end, in the past year, the constitutional realignment of J&K has been effected. New laws have been written, penal codes have been changed, and arbitrariness in local reservation and recruitment policies have been removed.
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The implementation of the 73rd and 74th amendments brings in the third tier of democracy in the Valley, thus devolution of funds and resources, which otherwise were in the hands of a district committee where the local MLA had considerable powers. Similarly, anti-corruption laws have also been duly aligned.

But that’s how far a Delhi-led administrative set-up can go. J&K needs an elected legislative assembly, a chief minister with a council of ministers, to take matters forward. For that, elections are a must and for which, political detainees are in the process of being released.

Sinha’s job will be to accelerate this process. The big gain from the Centre’s perspective is that political leaders like those from the National Conference are already talking of statehood under the Constitution, not special status. The question is how to tackle the statehood issue. Should statehood be a consequence of a successful election or should it be offered now? The NC, for one, wants the latter.

The next is the question of domicile certificates. It’s perfectly fine to extend this to refugees from Western Punjab and members of the Valmiki community but should it go beyond? The outgoing LG was clear that these would not exceed 10-12 lakhs, which is perhaps a basis for a political assurance that may require more than just a reaffirmation.
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The final question is that of delimitation. A commission has been formed. Would one hold elections only after that process is completed? Logically, that would make sense. But there’s a good chance that might give reasons to local parties to distance themselves from the process.

Sinha’s political dialogue would have to be held around these three issues. How he persuades his interlocutors to find common ground will be crucial to his success. But, as Singh’s short-lived tenure in Punjab showed, time is an added pressure in conflict areas like Kashmir because violence can shut down the window of opportunity almost instantly and that’s a situation stretched Centre can ill-afford now.
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Manoj Sinha, 'vikas purush' and IITian, who will now administer Jammu and Kashmir
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Manoj Sinha, former union minister and senior BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh, was on Thursday appointed as the new Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir. He is the first political leader to take charge as the LG of the union territory, reports PTI.

Manoj Sinha, former union minister and senior BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh, was on Thursday appointed as the new Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir. He is the first political leader to take ch..
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Known as 'vikas purush' (man involved in developmental work), Sinha is a three-time Lok Sabha MP who held charge of the Communication Ministry as a Minister of State in 2016 when the telecom industry was engaged in the sale of spectrum.

Known as 'vikas purush' (man involved in developmental work), Sinha is a three-time Lok Sabha MP who held charge of the Communication Ministry as a Minister of State in 2016 when the telecom industry..
Read More

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.

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 tel..
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Elected to Lok Sabha in 1996 for the first time, Sinha, an agriculturist, is the first politician to be elected as LG of the union territory. Earlier, the Centre had appointed Satya Pal Malik, a politician, as governor of the erstwhile state before it was bifurcated into two union territories -- Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir -- on August 5 last year. Sinha, who was elected to Lok Sabha in 1999 and 2014, was front runner for the post of Uttar Pradesh chief minister after the party walked away with 265 seats in the 403-member assembly.

Elected to Lok Sabha in 1996 for the first time, Sinha, an agriculturist, is the first politician to be elected as LG of the union territory. Earlier, the Centre had appointed Satya Pal Malik, a poli..
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Born in Mohanpura of Ghazipur district of eastern UP, he began his political career after being elected the president of the Banaras Hindu University Students Union in 1982, and has been actively involved in working for the backward villages. The 61-year-old, who is known for his massive connect with the people of rural areas, comes in place of former IAS officer Girish Chandra Murmu who hurriedly tendered his resignation on Wednesday night.

Born in Mohanpura of Ghazipur district of eastern UP, he began his political career after being elected the president of the Banaras Hindu University Students Union in 1982, and has been actively inv..
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