SRINAGAR:From an engineer to politician and from central minister to administrator, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has come a long way to live up to his `Vikas Purush’ image. But now as he begins his fourth year in Kashmir, Sinha is being quietly referred to as the man who changed Kashmir’s contemporary history.
For a 64-year-old, every day is a new day and every hour brings challenges. That is why he works 18 hours a day, attends numerous functions, travels by road, avoids swanky chopper rides, and mingles with people like a common man.
Almost single-handedly and with a passion that borders obsession, Sinha has made nationalism and ‘India first’ a part of Kashmiri culture and functioning now.
A huge participation in Sunday’s Tiranga rally on the Boulevard where Sinha was joined by people from all walks of life without any hassle has redefined not only the security paradigm but also silenced those who have been stereotyping Kashmiris as violent and unpatriotic. Sinha walked with people unfazed by the sweltering heat.
On 15 August 2023 for the first time in decades, the Bakshi stadium parade will be open to the public and no pre-issued passes will be required. Internet will be on and there will be no restrictions on the movement of people. Who would have imagined Kashmir Valley draped in nothing but tricolor?
Sinha’s image of carrying the national flag and leading the march almost summed up his mission as well as his method. Sinha’s brand of nationalism has no grey areas, for him either you are an Indian, not an Indian, the phrases like a Kashmiri Indian or an Indian Kashmiri have been deleted from the word book.
Those who know him well say that for Sinha being a nationalist is a way of life. In his scheme of things he doesn’t understand political chicanery and he firmly believes that the people of Kashmir are as Indian as anywhere else and it was just the ruling political class that had fuelled insecurities about carrying nationalism on their sleeves.
His friends say he lives, breathes his work, and firmly believes that in Kashmir he is on a Prime minister’s vision to transform the society. It would not be wrong to think that he is delivering efficiently. Tricolor is the new normal. There is no stone pelting, terrorism is on an all-time low. Tourism is booming. The city is buzzing, all in a matter of three years since he took over. Not much left to prove, is it?
Sinha’s commitment to work is also having a huge rub on his officers. Ably assisted by Chief Secretary Sinha shifts tirelessly from administrating and engaging. From Srinagar to Kupwara and from Anantnag to Sonamarg, Sinha attends multiple functions almost on a daily basis.
Sinha routinely turns up at official events a minute earlier and leaves only when he event is over. No other head of administration has been known to be so punctual and keen on turning up on time.
To cite an example, Sinha was among the first to reach the Botanical garden for the Tiranga rally on Sunday. He walked several kilometers holding a huge tricolor in his hand. It was just a trailer. A few hours later,he attended another function in Srinagar and interacted with people. Later inthe evening, he attended Jashn-e-Azadi. All functions at a stretch.
Those close to him still say that while he is committed to bringing Kashmir into the mainstream like never before, Sinha’s heart still lies in national politics. For those who will write the modern post-2019 history of Kashmir, Manoj Sinha may need a complete chapter dedicated to him. If he does go to Delhi eventually, Sinha will have the most powerful CV ever out of Kashmir for a Delhi politician.