Tuesday, October 5, 2010


5 Oct 2010


By R Rajagopalan
NEW DELHI: The Centre is mulling appointment of a political personality as the Jammu and Kashmir Governor alongwith appointment of either Minister of State in PMO Prithviraj Chavan or Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh to head a group of interlocutors to carry forward the proposed peace talks in the valley.

Chavan is also the Congress general secretary incharge of the J&K affairs and hence he knows pulses of the valley to be considered as the main interlocutor while Digvijay Singh, a former Madhya Pradesh chief minister, is believed to have quite a good reputation in Kashmir because of the pro-Muslim stand he has been taking for long.

The interlocutors are expected to be named in a day or two as those who can establish a rapport with the Kashmiri leaders, specially the separatists, have been already contacted. While some declined and some agreed for the job, others are waiting to first know who heads the group, the Home Ministry sources here said.

Names of the likely interlocutors and request of Governor N N Vohra, a former defence and home secretary, to shift him to any other state or relieve him in view of his wife Usha's ailment reportedly figured in discussion between the Prime Minister and Home Minister P Chidambaram in a one-to-one hour-long meeting here on Monday. Usha Vohra, also a retired bureaucrat, is believed to suffering from cancer.

The Home Ministry sources said the government is also getting demand from various quarters for appointment of a political leader as the state's governor as it has been always either a former bureaucrat or a former army officer appointed as the governor since after Dr Karan Singh seized to be the Sadr-e-Riyasat of Jammu and Kashmir. 

The government thinks the demand is genuine as it may send a political personality as the governor, though there is also a proposal to shift Arunachal Pradesh Governor General J J Singh, a retired Army chief, to Srinagar, the sources said.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who called on Dr Manmohan Singh on Monday, said neither his government nor his National Conference party have made any suggestions about the governor or interlocutors. "There are no inputs from the state government or national conference," he said while wriggling out from discussing advantage of a political person as the governor.

The Prime Minister assured the chief minister of all Central help in resolving the issues confronting the state as also promised an early action on job initiatives under the Rangarajan Committee that was asked to give its report within three months.

The chief minister reiterated the need for sustained efforts to enter into a dialogue with all shades of opinion in the state, while briefing him about good impact of the initiatives taken to restore peace and normalcy in the state. Giving a report on the law and order scenario, Omar Abdullah also told the PM that he hopes the complete normalcy will return in the valley soon.

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