Srinagar: Former Union minister Manoj Sinha was on Friday was sworn in as the new lieutenant governor of Jammu and Kashmir, the first political leader to take charge of the union territory.
The 61-year-old, who is known for his connect with people, particularly in rural areas, was administered the oath of office by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Justice Gita Mittal at a simple function in the Raj Bhavan.
“August 5 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.
Sinha succeeds former IAS officer Girish Chandra Murmu, who resigned on Wednesday night and was appointed Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on Thursday.
The National Conference stayed away from the ceremony for which both Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah were invited.
The National Conference 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 5, they 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 governors, 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.
Among the pressing issues Sinha will have to tackle is ending factionalism within the bureaucracy in the union territory, with some senior IAS officers recently found to be publicly indulging in verbal spats.
Another will be to revisit 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.
Sinha will be holding a meeting of all administrative secretaries later in the day, official said.
Known 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 elected as LG of the union territory.
The Centre had earlier 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 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 of Ghazipur district of eastern Uttar Pradesh, he began his political career after being elected president of the Banaras Hindu University Students Union in 1982, and has been actively involved in working for backward villages.