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Last Updated Monday June 26 2017 09:16 AM IST

Kashmir unrest may trigger Vohra's exit

Sachidananda Murthy
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Kashmir unrest

Jammu & Kashmir Governor N N Vohra was all set for a quiet retirement in 2013 when the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked him to continue for another term. The former bureaucrat agreed on one condition – that he would be allowed to finish the second term.

Three years into his tumultuous second stint, Vohra cannot rest assured that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would keep the promise given by his predecessor. The recent unrest in Kashmir and a curfew that lasted more than 50 days have raised doubts about the ability of the octogenarian to discharge his duty effectively, with the key task being overseeing the combined security forces in the valley.

Vohra struggled to contain the violence that broke out in the Valley after the death of a Hizbul Mujahideen commander. He could not even bring the parties to the talking table.

Vohra, who has worked as the Prime Minister’s principal secretary, defense secretary and home secretary, clearly failed to find a solution to the deadlock in the state.

Now Modi wants to replace him with a younger and more energetic person, preferably experienced in military and intelligence affairs.

The IAS officer from Punjab, who kicked up a storm in the 1990s through a report on the nexus between criminals and politicians, was picked by Singh as the Jammu and Kashmir governor in 2008. In January 2013, Singh offered him a second chance.

Vohra wanted Singh to make the announcement before his term ended and an assurance that he would be allowed to continue until the end of the term.

The central government issued an unprecedented order announcing the reappointment of a governor before his term was over. Singh also ensured that the opposition BJP did not object to his decision after speaking to the Opposition Leader L K Advani and BJP president Rajnath Singh.

Vohra did a commendable job in arranging for the annual Amarnath pilgrimage, one of the main demands of the BJP.
Vohra continued to be in the good books of Rajnath Singh and even Modi when the NDA came to power at the center. More than a dozen governors appointed by the UPA government lost their jobs but Vohra stayed on.

Vohra was perhaps following in the footsteps of M L Singhvi, the right-wing jurist who was picked by Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao to be the High Commissioner to Britain. Singhvi wanted Rao to consult Opposition Leader A B Vajpayee before appointing him, just like Vohra did years later.

Singhvi got a second stint during Rao’s tenure and another during the rule of H D Deve Gowda.

Interestingly, Singhvi joined the BJP after his retirement and went on to become a Rajya Sabha member. His son, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, however, chose to join the Congress.

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