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Khanduri, Hasnain in Race to Replace Vohra as JK Governor

A file image  of BJP leader and Former General  BC Khanduri (L) and General Syed Ata Hasnain (R)

A file image of BJP leader and Former General BC Khanduri (L) and General Syed Ata Hasnain (R)

Three retired generals and two former governors are in the race to replace NN Vohra as governor of Jammu & Kashmir, part of the centre’s effort to jump start the governance process in the near paralysed state.

Three retired generals and two former governors are in the race to replace NN Vohra as governor of Jammu & Kashmir, part of the centre’s effort to jump start the governance process in the near paralysed state.

A top Union government official told News18 that BJP leader General BC Khanduri, a Union minister in the AB Vajpayee government and also a former chief minister of Uttarakhand, is a likely successor to former bureaucrat Vohra, who has been the JK governor since 2008. Also in the race are General Syed Ata Hasnain, who was a former commander of Srinagar-based XV Corps, VP Malik who was the Chief of Army Staff during the Kargil war, former Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vijay Kapoor and former Mizoram Governor AR Kohli.

A final decision would be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a few days, the official said, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity around the issue.

Khanduri, noted for kicking off the Golden Quadrilateral project during Vajpayee’s term, may have an edge, but one school of thought is that at 81 he may be past his prime. General Hasnain is associated with the Vivekananda Foundation, a Sangh Parivar-affiliated think tank that has seen many of its fellows graduate to key roles in the Modi government.

None of the luminaries being considered were immediately available for comment.

Kashmir has been on the boil for 50 days now after the encounter killing of militant Burhan Wani. The state is undergoing the longest curfew in its strife-torn history and New Delhi had to deploy the BSF in parts of the state to restore normalcy. Army establishments and police stations have come under attack during this period and the use of pellet guns by CRPF had drawn flak from civil society groups.

While New Delhi acknowledges Vohra’s contributions to the state, the thinking is that the state needs a new strategy to contain the fresh bout of violence. Which way the Modi government’s Kashmir policy is moving will also be evident on just who the Centre nominates as the next governor. A retired General could mean New Delhi is in no mood to relent, while a civilian at the helm could signal the launch of a fresh outreach plan. Vohra, incidentally, is the first civilian governor of the state after Jagmohan ever since militancy broke out in the state in 1989.

Here in brief are the five top names in contention:

BC Khanduri

Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri, the likely successor, took part in the freedom struggle during his student days before he joined the army as an egineer and retired as a Major General. After he took to politics he became chief minister of Uttarakhand twice,from 2007–2009 and 2011-2012. He was Minister of Surface Transport in the AB Vajpayee government during which time he initiated the Golden Quadrilateral highway network connecting major cities. 81-year-old Khanduri is presently an MP from Garhwal.

Lt. Gen. Syed Ata Hasnain

The other likely successor in the race Lt. Gen. Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd) has served as GOC of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps, that plays a crucial role in tackling militancy in the Valley.

Hasnain is a highly-decorated Army officer who has served in Kashmir and has first-hand knowledge on the Valley’s security issues and how to handle them.During his tenure there, the Army had neutralised several top militants and had contained infiltration.

Gen VP Malik

General Ved Prakash Malik, also a contender, was the Army chief during the Kargil war, had the top job in the force from September30, 1997 to September 30 2000. VP Malik coordinated and oversaw the planning and execution of Operation Vijay which beat back Pakistan's attempted intrusion in Kargil sector during May to July 1999. After retiring in 2000, he settled in Panchkula near Chandigarh.

A R Kohli

74-year-old Amolak Rathan Kohli is a former governor of Mizoram from from 2001 to 2006.

A management graduate from IIM Calcutta, Kohli was close to former PM AB Vajpayee and his deputy LK Advani which led to his getting the gubernatorial post.

Kohli is respected as an eminent educator and human resource trainer who has been involved in the establishment of various educational institutions and programmes.

His son Nalin Kohli is the national spokesperson of the BJP and a Supreme Court lawyer.

Vijai Kapoor

Vijai Kapoor is a former IAS officer who was Lieutenant Governor of Delhi from April 20, 1998 to June 9, 2004. Presently he is director at Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Limited.

first published:August 27, 2016, 16:21 IST