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Manoj Sinha, the Seasoned Politician Brought Back from 'Exile' to Take Charge of J&K

File photo Jammu & Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.

File photo Jammu & Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.

A surprise choice, the dhoti-clad civil engineer has been handpicked as L-G for Jammu and Kashmir at a time when the government is considering initiating political process in the region.

Former union minister and BJP leader Manoj Sinha took oath as the new Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday. A surprise choice, the dhoti-clad civil engineer from IT-BHU was handpicked for the post after spending a year in political exile at a time when the Narendra Modi government is considering initiating political process in Jammu and Kashmir one year after its bifurcation.

It was felt in the party high command that it was time hand over the charge of J&K to a man with political experience, who can handle public sentiment and administration with the same capability.

Seen in the party circles as a silent worker, a man of integrity and a leader who can connect with the masses, Sinha had as minister tactfully dealt with the nitty-gritty of telecom and railways ministries.

Sinha was among the contenders for the UP chief minister post after the 2017 elections. At a News18 India event, as he left the dias, he was wished success by people in the hall. But he remained silent. He lost out in the race to Adityanath, and silently left UP.

He was also not given a Rajya Sabha berth despite many of his juniors getting nominations to the Upper House. But he never lost heart. He knew it was his commitment to the organisation that helped him climb the ladder and he decided to wait till the high command gave him the next opportunity to prove himself.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the three-time MP lost to BSP’s Afzal Ansari from Ghazipur constituency in eastern Uttar Pradesh by a margin of 1.19 lakh votes, falling victim to the caste equations.

He never left Delhi after losing the election, and lived in a rented flat in Hauz Khas. During the Budget session, he often came to Parliament and was often asked why he doesn’t speak up in front of the party high command. But he never reacted and used to smile all the time he was asked anything about his future.

Between 2004 and 2014, his political star had dimmed as the BJP lost its way in UP. But he was a regular in party meetings and national executives held all over the country. It was this commitment to his party and the cadre that led to him being rewarded with a ministerial berth by PM Modi after his win in 2014 elections.

Even when party president Amit Shah asked him to change his Ghazipur seat before 2019 polls, Manoj Sinha denied this proposal saying that he has worked hard to develop his constituency, and so he trusts the voters there. He lost, but did not lose his spirit. And the BJP believes he could bring a healing touch as an administrator for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Sinha has led a simple life, and along with Rajnath Singh, is among the few who still wears a traditional attire on a daily basis. At one dinner hosted by the railways minister for journalists, he was speaking to reporters when a foreign journalist intervened saying that he needed to speak to the minister. Sinha turned towards him and said in English that he will get back to him once he is free. The surprised foreign journalist could not believe that a man in dhoti kurta was speaking in English.

But he also has an aggressive side. Once during Vajpayee’s tenure, someone from the opposition benches made derogatory comments about the PM, and Sinha burst out in anger and rushed towards the opposition benches. It was Yashwant Sinha, who was finance minister at that time, who managed to get a hold of Manoj Sinha and prevented a scuffle.

He enjoys confidence of PM Modi and home minister Amit Shah. Therefore, at the time when Centre is all set to begin political process in the Valley, a seasoned politician is likely to make the things easy for the ruling party.
first published:August 07, 2020, 17:34 IST