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Fresh stint for Assam Governor

New Delhi, Aug. 28: Assam Governor Lt. Gen. (retd) S.K. Sinha, whose term expires this month, will have yet another stint at the Raj Bhavan.

Sources said the decision to extend the Governor’s term was mainly influenced by the prevailing circumstances in the state which necessitated “the presence of somebody as governor who had a firm grasp over security matters and who knew the politics of the state in all intricate details”.

Gen. Sinha’s reappointment sets at rest all earlier speculation that Sikkim Governor Kedar Nath Sahni or some senior partyman from the south would be appointed to the gubernatorial post.

In extending Gen. Sinha’s term, the Centre has followed the unwritten convention of selecting an ex-serviceman or intelligence officials as governors in the Northeast because of insurgency.

The only exception in this regard is Meghalaya, whose Governor M.M. Jacob was a former Union minister.

Although not a BJP man, Gen. Sinha had always been its sympathiser and had contested the Patna Lok Sabha seat with active support from the party.

Moreover, he had always enjoyed a rapport with senior BJP leaders and its allies. Even former chief minister Prafulla Mahanta was reported to have campaigned in his support with the NDA leadership.

The relationship between the Congress and Gen. Sinha had soured during the AGP’s tenure when he refused to accord sanction to the CBI to prosecute Mahanta in the multicrore letter of credit scam.

Gen. Sinha also came in for criticism for his alleged role in forging the alliance between the BJP and the Asom Gana Parishad in the last Assembly elections. In Guwahati, the AGP today “congratulated” Gen. Sinha for being reappointed as the Assam Governor and hoped that “he will continue to work for the welfare of people of Assam”.

Gen. Sinha’s first tenure as Governor has not been free of friction with the state government. His report to the President in 1998, portraying the grim scenario of Assam on account of migration from Bangladesh, had not gone down well with the ruling Congress. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who was then PCC chief, had even remarked that “the Governor should refrain from airing his personal opinion in legal and constitutional matters concerning the state”.

When contacted at the AIIMS, Gogoi said he was “not unhappy” with the extension of Gen. Sinha’s term. “The deputy Prime Minister called me today to take my opinion and we didn’t have any reason to object. Our roles are different and there has been no friction between us,” Gogoi said.

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