A political hand in Kashmir
Manoj Sinha will be judged on whether he can revive the political processUpdated: Aug 07, 2020 06:13 IST
In a surprise move — exactly a year after Parliament effected constitutional changes in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and just a little over nine months after he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) of India’s most
sensitive Union Territory — GC Murmu has resigned as L-G. The Centre has appointed Manoj Sinha as the new constitutional head of the UT.
Mr Sinha is a senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician, a former minister, a leader rooted in the politics of Uttar Pradesh, and is understood to enjoy Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s confidence. The fact that a political figure has been sent to J&K is a positive sign, for the impasse in Kashmir is fundamentally political. Politicians often have deftness, agility, interpersonal skills, the ability to reconcile contradictions, and look for out-of-the-box solutions that bureaucrats lack, mired as they are in a lifetime’s training of following processes and rules.
But being a politician alone is not enough. Mr Sinha will have to understand the nuances of Kashmiri politics and society, the security scenario, and establish a cordial relationship with all stakeholders immediately. He must also reach out to mainstream political leaders, some of whom remain in detention, and bring them back into the political process; create a more democratic environment for civil society to function; and then, create conditions for elections. Mr Sinha will be judged on whether he can hold free and fair elections in J&K, ensure a return to normalcy with democratic rights, and maintain peace.