Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik’s move to appoint senior BJP leader Dr Hina Shafi Bhat as vice- chairperson of Khadi and Village Industries Board has triggered a row, with political parties calling the appointment “undemocratic” and “unethical”.
Daughter of late Mohammad Shafi Bhat, former National Conference MP from Srinagar, Hina had contested the 2014 Assembly election on a BJP ticket. She lost to PDP’s Syed Altaf Bukhari in Srinagar’s Amirakadal constituency.
Her tenure as chairperson, North Zone, Khadi and Village Industries Commission, recently ended.
A government order on the reconstitution of the board also mentioned the appointment of nine non-official members — Sanjeev Kumar Manmotra, Rajesh Gupta, Ravinder Singh and Rajesh Kumar Bakshi in Jammu and Imtiaz Ahmed, Ghulam Mohiuddin, Farooq Amin, Munshi Muzaffar Hussain and Mushtaq Qureshi in Kashmir.
Before Hina, PDP’s Mansoor Khan was vice-chairperson of the board. He had stepped down amid a furore over alleged backdoor appointments of relatives of politicians during the BJP-PDP coalition rule in the state.
Hina’s appointment has drawn sharp criticism from political parties, with National Conference provincial president Devender Rana calling it as “height of impropriety’’ and “most unethical’’.
“This is a wrong decision. We strongly object to it. The state is under Governor’s rule and he is not supposed to go by the advice of any political party. This decision is unethical,” PDP’s chief spokesperson Rafi Mir said.
“It is purely undemocratic. The Governor is listening to the BJP, which is not right. Governor has to act without listening to anyone. It is unethical to appoint a BJP activist in this way,” state Congress president Ghulam Ahmed Mir said. He added that the administration must immediately review its wrong decision.
Jammu Kashmir National Panthers Party president Balwant Mankotia said the appointment indicated that the BJP-led government in Delhi was running the administration in Jammu and Kashmir through the backdoor. He added that this will lead to further deterioration in the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
BJP spokesperson Sunil Sethi said if the Governor appoints a person to a position on the basis of his or her ability, it is not an issue. “Tomorrow, he may find a Congressman with some ability and he can appoint him too.”
Contacted for comments, Hina told The Indian Express she didn’t approach anyone for the appointment. “I haven’t approached anybody. I had not asked even when the coalition government was in power,” she said.