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Says Guv Malik: I’m here for dialogue not politicking

New Delhi, Aug 28:The recently appointed J&K Governor, Satya Pal Malik, who is the first core-politician to head the state in decades, has said that he has been sent ‘not for politicking but to reach out to the people’.

On Tuesday, The Hindu quoted Malik saying:“I may be a politician appointed as governor, but I’m not in Jammu and Kashmir for politicking.”

Malik, after meeting President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, said his brief was to “reach out to the people of the State, to listen to them and after listening, do whatever is in their interests.”

“I will be inviting leaders of political parties to meet with me and if anyone feels uncomfortable to come to me, I will go to them. Protocol will not stop me,” The Hindu reported him saying.

The report, however, said that Malik did not comment on whether these “political” leaders would include Hurriyat leaders as well.

“The dialogue at the level of the people is the most fundamental thing. It forms the basic foundation of any further dialogue, including high level political dialogue,” the report, quoting Malik, added

Later, Malik, in an interview with Press Trust of India, said that the “governor’s house will be people’s house.”

“I will ensure that the administration is at the beck and call of the people and there are no complaints about governance. I have already asked deputy commissioners to hold a meeting with locals every week and directed the advisers to visit every district headquarters once in a week to meet the people,” he told PTI.

Asked about his reaction after receiving the call about his transfer to the Jammu and Kashmir, he said, “It’s a job. I know it’s a challenging job but every challenge throws a new opportunity. I am sure that I will be able to fulfil the goal of turning it into a prosperous state.”

The governor said he had called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi after taking oath. “We have a prime minister who is very Kashmir friendly and has the best understanding about Kashmir and he has advised me to reach out to the people as much as I can.” Asked whether holding of local body elections including Panchayat polls figured in the list of priorities, he said, “It does definitely. After all empowering local bodies is essential for people. I will ensure that there is a free flow of funds to the elected representatives as this way we will ensure that fruits of development reach the grassroots.”

On a question about many local youths joining militant groups, Malik said, “I know it’s a problem. I have a blueprint in my mind and I will definitely ensure that the misguided youths are engaged with and brought back into family life.”

However, he did not elaborate on it. Malik, a politician from Uttar Pradesh who served as the governor of Bihar before his current assignment, said his focus would also be on ensuring better sports facilities in the state.

“The youth of the state are quite talented and all we require is to tap their potential. I want to see more and more youths from the state qualifying in higher education and all India services.”

The governor, who has made courtesy calls on President Ram Nath Kovind, the Prime Minister and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, will be leaving for the Kashmir Valley on Wednesday and plans to hold meetings with officials and advisers besides top officials of the Army, para-military and police.

“After that, I will be travelling across the length and breadth of the state and meeting civil society,” he said.

Mentioning the commendable role played by Jammu and Kashmir Police, the governor said, “I will be addressing the difficulties faced by the police on a war footing. I met the home minister and requested for providing accommodation to them. He has agreed and we will work out the plan soon.”

BJP National General Secretary, Ram Madhav, in his article on Monday, had written a detailed account of what was expected of Malik.

“A leader of great learning and knowledge, his past friendship and association with leaders like Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has given him valuable insights into the politics and problems of J&K.As governor, his agenda is cut out — accelerating development activity, resolving the governance deficit, and continuing with strong counter-terror measures. But what is most important is to kick-start political activity in the state. Elections to local bodies, announced by the outgoing Governor Vohra, are an important step in that direction. But they are not enough,” Madhav had written.

He had called the new governor is a seasoned politician and understands that the answer to the seeming anarchy in the state is not the security or bureaucratic option alone.