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Malik fits PM Modi’s plans for Kashmir

The appointment of Satyapal Malik as J&K Governor on Tuesday, the first politician to hold that post since militancy hit the State in the 1980s, is a clear pointer to the government’s thinking.

According to senior sources in the Union government, the choice of Mr. Malik, a seasoned politician who has been a Socialist, a Congressman and joined the BJP in 2004 over the course of his career, hews to the road map Prime Minister Modi has for the State, especially the next six months which are crucial.

“In the late 1980s and early nineties, we had non-civilians as Governors. Then we had a career bureaucrat in Mr. N.N. Vohra. The next logical appointment was that of a politician to that post, a progression with the political process,” said a source.

Mr. Malik was to be appointed last year itself, especially because he had excellent relations with the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, having served in the V.P. Singh government between 1989-90. “For some reason that couldn’t happen,” said a source, “and while the relationship with the Muftis was important then, his reputation as a seasoned politician who has relationships across the political spectrum is helpful.”

There are, said a senior Home Ministry official, three basic things that are to be aimed for in the next six months. The first is to accelerate development projects. In this case, Mr. Vohra had stopped the use of the Constituency Development Fund of legislators once the Assembly was placed under suspended animation. Mr. Malik is expected to allow for its use again.

“The Assembly is in suspended animation. It hasn’t been dissolved, and legislators in order to engage in various aspects of political activity especially connected to development of their constituencies, require these funds,” said the source.

The second priority is internal security, where the Governor has a more supportive role, and his advisers a more hands-on one. “Here, the fact that he is a political appointee will help synergy,” said the source.

The third is to bridge the governance gap, in terms of appointments in key positions and cracking down on corruption. After that, the government will take a call again on how to take forward the political process, whether to announce polls, to continue with Govenor’s rule or explore options of government formation under the current legislative strength.

Sources said that ever since Mr. Vohra’s term came to an end last year (he has been on an extension), the question of who would be his replacement was being discussed at the highest level of government.

Five names were finally shortlisted, former Maharashtra Governor Vidyasagar Rao, former Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, Mr. Malik, Admiral Shekhar Sinha and BJP leader Avinash Rai Khanna. “Mr. Malik was picked, despite his own reservations, as he fit the bill perfectly,” said the source.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 1:34:27 PM |

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