The appointment of former Central minister Manoj Sinha as Lt Governor of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is a well-thought-out move with many motivations. In the complex politics of Jammu and Kashmir this marks a return to a politician as Governor, after a bureaucrat that G C Murmu (his predecessor) was. Sinha as a politician gave a good account of himself as minister in charge of the communications ministry and then as minister of state for railways. He is known to take quick decisions and is well-rated by Prime Minister Modi. Whenever elections are held for the J & K assembly for which a hush-hush move is on, Sinha’s experience would come in handy. Skilled in the art of political jugglery, Sinha has a mix of tact and efficiency. He suffered a setback when he lost the Ghazipur seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to Afzal Ansari of the Bahujan Samaj Party, but with this rehabilitation he would be deemed a political heavyweight again. With Jammu and Kashmir now looking towards a surge in infrastructural development, Sinha’s experience in catalysing investment in this area is expected to prove useful. He would also be called upon to keep an eye on Kashmir’s bureaucracy with the region’s past of rampant corruption.
It would be foolhardy, however, to foresee a cushy time for Manoj Sinha. There indeed are challenges galore for him which he would be expected to grapple with. Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was voicing the expectations of many recently when he hoped that the Centre would soon restore Jammu and Kashmir’s full statehood. But the Centre would like to see signs of sustained normalcy and the new incumbent in the Lt Governor’s chair dealing effectively with militant terror. Tough decisions would have to be taken as the state prepares for elections. Indeed, the Centre need not be in a hurry to hold elections or even for full statehood for J & K. There are sinister forces abroad working in collusion with elements within the country and the Centre cannot but have its hands full. Sinha has an onerous task ahead of him to frustrate the designs of elements inimical to India and at the same time to win back the hearts of the people of Jammu and Kashmir at large. He would need to work in tandem with political forces as well as the army with a carrot and stick approach that the situation warrants. This is no cakewalk.