Key challenge is to win people’s confidence: new J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik

Winning the confidence of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and addressing the issues concerning regional imbalances is the top priority for Satya Pal Malik, the first politician appointed as the Governor of Jammu & Kashmir since the beginning of militancy.

“It is a challenging job. The basic challenge is to win the confidence of the people of the state,” newly appointed Jammu & Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik told The Indian Express over phone from Patna.

The Bihar Governor, in this context, also recalled his association with former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed with whom he had worked in the VP Singh government.

“Mufti Saheb was a friend. I have worked with him. He was a wonderful person,” Malik said.

The veteran politician, who has been associated with former Prime Ministers Charan Singh and V P Singh, also suggested that the appointment of a political person as Governor was a signal that the Centre was underlining the primacy of people’s concerns.

“The signal is that the Governor should be of the people,” Malik said when asked what was the Centre’s message in the appointment of a politician as the Governor of the state.

“The Prime Minister has always been serious about Jammu and Kashmir. Regarding its development as well as about the regional imbalances across three regions. He has always been with them in crisis. During floods, he supported Kashmir like anything,” Malik said.

Malik with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. He moves from the Raj Bhavan in Patna to Srinagar. (PTI Photo)

The newly appointed Governor identified the regional imbalance issue, which has been one of the key themes of BJP politics in the state, as one of his priorities.

“My mandate is to meet people’s expectations and to address the imbalance among the regions,” Malik said adding that he would get an update on the issues soon after he takes over.

Malik, currently serving as Governor of Bihar, was transferred to Jammu and Kashmir Tuesday during a reshuffle of Governors by President Ram Nath Kovind along with the appointment of three new Governors for the state of Bihar, Haryana and Uttarakhand. The announcement marked the retirement of incumbents N N Vohra (Jammu & Kashmir) and K K Paul (Uttarakhand).

Malik’s appointment is significant given that he will be the first politician Governor since the militancy gripped Jammu and Kashmir in late 80s. Former Governors have either been former bureaucrats Jagmohan, Girish Chandra Saxena and Vohra or former Army officers K V Krishna Rao and S K Sinha.

Malik will take charge of the state when it is under Governor’s Rule after Mehbooba Mufti resigned in June following the collapse of the PDP-BJP alliance in the state. The separate Constitution of the state means that the unlike others when an elected government falls, the state comes under the rule of the Governor and not the President.

Malik has been active in politics since ‘70s but not seen as a career BJP-RSS man. He is a late entrant to the BJP ahead of 2014 elections.

“Two things worked in his favour. First, he is a non-RSS member and, secondly, he will carry goodwill in the state as he has worked with Mufti Mohammed Saeed and is a career politician,” said a BJP leader about the decision.

“He is a politically very mature leader. We needed a person with political decision-making for the people,” said the leader. As for security issues in the state, the source added: “These are matters that can be dealt with professionally and the NSA is always available to assist”.

Apart from Satya Pal Malik’s transfer to Jammu & Kashmir, President Kovind also transferred Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki to Tripura. The incumbent in Tripura, Tathagata Roy, has been transferred to Meghalaya. Meghalaya incumbent Ganga Prasad has been transferred to Sikkim as Governor.

In addition, President Kovind appointed three new governors: Lalji Tandon (Bihar), Satyadev Narayan Arya (Haryana) and Baby Rani Maurya (Uttarakhand). While Tandon and Arya will replace Malik and Solanki both of whom have been transferred, Maurya will replace K K Paul.

Sending Solanki, a BJP veteran, to Tripura is being seen as an attempt to help the first ever BJP government in the state under a new and young leadership. The appointment of Arya, who belongs to Dalit community, is being seen as an attempt to reach out to the community. —(with ENS)