The appointment of former Union Minister Manoj Sinha as Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir sees the return of a politician in the Srinagar Raj Bhavan.
Mr. Sinha, 61, was the Minister of State for Railways and Minister for Communications in the first Modi government before hitting a patch of political wilderness after he lost the 2019 Lok Sabha election from Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh.
Throughout this, however, Mr. Sinha enjoyed the confidence of the BJP’s leadership and when the net was cast to replace G.C. Murmu as Lieutenant Governor, the choice alighted on Mr. Sinha.
A BHU product
Mr. Sinha, a three-time Lok Sabha member, starting from 1996, started his active political life in the Benaras Hindu University (BHU), where he got B.Tech and M.Tech degrees. He was elected the students union president in 1982.
His political style in those days, say his colleagues, was very much about helping out students who were indigent, including varsity staffers. In one instance, Mr. Sinha is said to have spearheaded a collection of funds to help a staffer at the hostel he stayed in to finance a wedding in the latter’s family.
Mr. Sinha came into contact with the RSS and the BJP in that period and remained firmly with the ideology with the result that he was made part of the BJP’s national council in 1989. He came of age in the hurly burly 1990s politics of the Ram temple movement and Mandal Commission.
He was given ticket by the BJP to contest from Ghazipur in 1996 and he won the seat that time and on 1999 and 2014 too. He is credited with having brought in many development projects to Ghazipur, considered a backwater in eastern Uttar Pradesh in his stint as minister in Delhi. None of this helped him to win the 2019 polls, but added to his image as a quiet worker.
A phlegmatic personality, Mr. Sinha is considered to be a quiet, discreet politician and enjoys Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s confidence, a fact that will help him in his current appointment. It is also hoped that his down to earth, less flashy personality will help in J&K in reaching out to people.
Mr. Sinha had also been rumoured to have been tipped off for the post of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister when the BJP won a majority in that State in 2017, but that job finally went to Yogi Adityanath. After losing the polls in 2019, it was expected that he would be brought into the Union Cabinet via the Rajya Sabha route considering his performance as Communications Minister in the first Modi government. That was not to be. His appointment at Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir is as much about the need to bring in a seasoned politician than a bureaucrat, a uniformed personnel or even someone with Intelligence background.