THE Centre on Thursday named former Union minister Manoj Sinha as the new Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, picking a politician for the post after G C Murmu resigned. If Murmu’s resignation late on Wednesday, on the anniversary of the scrapping of special status of J&K, came as a surprise, so was Sinha’s appointment.Known as an efficient minister, both in the Railways and Telecom portfolios he held in the previous Narendra Modi government, Sinha, 61, was seen as sidelined in the BJP recently. After losing the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the three-time MP from Uttar Pradesh had failed to secure a Rajya Sabha nomination. Currently, he was not officially assigned any post in the party. However, during the Delhi Assembly elections earlier this year, he was given responsibility for a few seats.
Sinha arrived in Srinagar on Thursday afternoon and was received at the airport by Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam and DGP Dilbagh Singh.Late on Thursday, Murmu was named as the new Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
A B. Tech in Civil Engineering from the Institute of Technology, BHU, Varanasi, Sinha had a good working relationship with his officials as a minister apart from his standing as a mass leader. This is seen as an advantage in the tricky post he now heads for, in Srinagar.
Between 2014 and 2019, Sinha had served as Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Communications and Minister of State for Railways. An official who has worked with him said, “He is decisive, congenial and gets work delivered within the stipulated time.”
Among the projects Sinha is credited with delivering on time are BharatNet, for connecting 1 lakh villages by broadband Internet by the end of 2017 (the task had been pending since 2014), India Post Payment Bank, launched in August 2018, and projects in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. He was also seen as having dealt effectively with the problem of call drops as part of his Telecom duties.
Belonging to Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh, Sinha entered politics while at IT-BHU, joining the ABVP and subsequently becoming the president of the university students’ union. In 1989, he became a member of the national council of the BJP.
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He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1996, then in 1999 and 2014. In 2017, he was among the front-runners for Uttar Pradesh chief ministership after the BJP swept to power in the state. However, the BJP had picked Yogi Adityanath.
Murmu was the first L-G of J&K after it was split into two Union territories. A former IAS officer of the Gujarat cadre who served as Expenditure Secretary in the Union Finance Ministry, he had drafted the development package for J&K announced by PM Modi in November 2016.
Murmu’s resignation came days after making comments on elections in J&K and restoration of 4G in the Union territory, which were seen as contrary to the Centre’s stand.
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