New Delhi/Guwahati, June 4: Returning to what he describes as the “most beautiful place in the country”, new Assam Governor Lt. Gen. (retd) Ajay Singh will take up his assignment in the trouble-torn state tomorrow, hoping to blend business with pleasure.
Gen. Singh — a man of “diverse interests” by his own admission with a penchant for angling, music, painting and sports — told The Telegraph: “Assam will give me ample scope to further my interests and I’ll dabble in my hobbies whenever I feel I need a change.”
The new responsibility will see him don a new mantle as he shifts base from his Vasant Kunj flat in Delhi to Raj Bhavan, nestled in the scenic hills alongside the Brahmaputra in the Assam capital.
He replaces another retired general, S.K. Sinha, who has been appointed Governor of Jammu and Kashmir. Like his successor, Lt. Gen. Sinha, too, was a keen sportsman, taking to golf during leisure.
Singh is scheduled to arrive at Guwahati airport at 1.30 pm tomorrow, from where he will head straight for Raj Bhavan for the swearing-in ceremony, to be held at 4 pm.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi, his council of ministers, the leader of the Opposition and top army, police and civil officials will attend the function.
Recalling the pleasures of living in the Northeast, Gen. Singh said he had honed his angling skills in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh when he was serving as GOC-in-C of the Tezpur-based 4 Corps.
Adorned with the Param Vishist Seva and Ati Vishist Seva medals for a meritorious service in the army, Gen. Singh was effusive in his praise: “I fell in love with the state when I served there about a decade ago. There are very few places in the country where you would find such natural beauty.”
Saying he felt “very humble” on being appointed Governor, Gen. Singh said: “I’m aware of the people’s yearnings and I will serve the state to the best of my abilities.”
Credited with having crushed the Ulfa through Operations Bajrang and Rhino, the Governor said extensive tours of the state had helped him realise the “needs and aspirations” of the people.
Aware of his predecessor’s sour relationship with the chief minster, Gen. Singh appeared guarded in his remarks, declining comment on political issues.
“First let me get a feel of the situation there as Governor. It has been a long time since I supervised Operations Rhino and Bajrang and it would not be proper to comment on anything now,” he said.
Coming from a family of landlords in Rajasthan, Gen. Singh was commissioned into the army in 1956 in the Armoured Corps after passing out from the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun.
He saw action during the 1965 and 1971 wars, serving in various capacities before retiring in 1993 as director-general of Mechanised Force.
Immediately after his retirement, Gen. Singh was posted as the in-charge of the Arjun tank project at the Defence Research and Development Organisation for three years.