IN A SUDDEN development, Gireesh Chandra Murmu, who took oath as the first Lieutenant Governor of Jammu & Kashmir on October 31, 2019, resigned Wednesday. Exactly a year ago, on August 5, 2019, the Centre had abrogated the special status of erstwhile state, and decided to bifurcate it into two Union Territories.
According to senior government sources, Murmu submitted his resignation to the President of India. A Rashtrapati Bhawan spokesperson said he was not in a position to confirm it. Before being appointed L-G, Murmu was the Expenditure Secretary in the Union Ministry of Finance, and had drafted the development package announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2015.
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The sources in the government said Murmu may be appointed the Comptroller and Auditor General now. Rajiv Mehrishi, who is the CAG now, is scheduled to complete his term this week. It is not certain who will replace Murmu but sources did not rule out Mehrishi as his successor.
Sources in Srinagar said the L-G’s office cancelled a scheduled meeting with a media delegation from New Delhi late afternoon. All other meetings scheduled in the evening were also cancelled. He left for Jammu from Srinagar Wednesday evening, and is likely to be in New Delhi on Thursday.
Just a week ago, the Election Commission had taken exception to LG Murmu’s recent comments to the media on the timing of Assembly elections in Jammu & Kashmir. In a strongly-worded statement, the EC said all decisions on the conduct and timing of elections are its “sole remit”. In an interview to The Indian Express, Murmu had emphasised that President’s Rule in J&K cannot be in place indefinitely and that “elections would not be very far.”
Sources in Srinagar also said differences between the LG and Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam had also resulted in some administrative problems. The LG had started calling meetings and files to his office, and sending notes to the Chief Secretary for necessary action.
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Sources close to the LG said he had been concerned with “the lack of accountability among civil servants and bringing public servants under pressure to get work done.” They also said that he had also been pushing bureaucrats to increase “public interface and his idea was to have mass participation in developmental programmes.”
Murmu spent the first seven months of his tenure directing the Centre’s efforts as it took administrative control over J&K. He worked from Jammu, and according to sources in J&K, there have been differences between the Chief Secretary, who heads the bureaucracy in the UT, and the LG. Murmu moved to Srinagar in June amidst a surge in Covid-19 cases in the Valley.
He was himself too criticised within a section in the bureaucracy for lack of public outreach, Murmu began visiting districts, first in North Kashmir and then in South Kashmir, beginning mid-July.
In a recent interview to The Indian Express, Murmu had said the J&K administration had been making representations for restoring 4G internet services which have remained suspended for a year. “We have been representing this thing (restoration of 4G). It will not be a problem,” Murmu had said.
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