JAMMU: At the helm of administrative affairs of Jammu and Kashmir for two years and eight months now, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha is named the most powerful person related to the affairs of the union territory.
Sinha has figured at number 24 in the Indian Express’s list of ‘The most powerful Indians in 2023’, which also has former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Farooq Abdullah covered.
Noting that running Jammu and Kashmir was not an easy task, especially after the abrogation of its special status in 2019, the newspaper said that Manoj Sinha has managed to cling on to power for almost three years now.
“Also, at the Centre, the belief is that the dynasty reigns of the Abdullahs and the Muftis are passe and Jammu and Kashmir needs new faces. Sinha has been brought in to identify younger politicians, who can bridge the gap with seniors of the region as well as bring disparate sections of the society together,” it said.
Sinha was at number 71 in the last year’s list.
The newspaper noted that Sinha has managed to get the first foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Valley after a long gap. With the assembly elections overdue, Sinha’s biggest challenge would be to ensure a conducive atmosphere for free and fair elections in Jammu and Kashmir, it said.
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti has slipped from 79th position last year to manage 88th place in this year’s list.
“Even as most Kashmir-based parties are going through a lean phase, and with most of PDP’s own top leaders gravitating towards pro-New Delhi parties, Mehbooba Mufti is emerging as the lone voice of dissent against the Centre’s Kashmir policy,” noted the newspaper.
From bigger issues like the abrogation of Article 370 to local issues like corruption and demolition drives, she reflects the concerns of common Kashmiris that has helped her grow in stature, it said.
The newspaper noted Mehbooba’s visit to the Navagraha temple in Poonch, where she offered water to the shivling there, proudly claiming she was acting as a citizen of a nation that follows “Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb”.
“With Assembly elections expected any time this year, the biggest challenge for Mufti is to revive her party that has seen a vertical split, find credible leaders to replace the defectors and prove that she is still worthy of a fight,” said the newspaper.
NC chief and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah follows Mehbooba at 89th place.
“The National Conference president is still seen as the voice of Kashmiris, one which he is careful to nurture and champion. This is why he has cobbled an alliance with other mainstream political parties in the Valley, including NC’s arch rival, the Peoples Democratic Party,” said the newspaper.
“Abdullah has stitched up an alliance — People’s Alliance For Gupkar Declaration — to challenge the BJP electorally but it would be tough for him to keep the alliance intact till the Assembly elections, which the Centre says are around the corner. While he pledged that the all-party front would contest elections jointly, dissent came from his own party. Can he counter the BJP narrative and wrest political power,” noted the paper.