More than being the last governor of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, Satya Pal Malik is creating controversies one after the other. This is quite the opposite to what his predecessor, N N Vohra did. Vohra was the governor here for 10 long years (two consecutive terms of five years each) but always maintained a dignified silence. He continues to do so even now.
The state remained under governor's rule for four times during Vohra's tenure and he had to handle very tough law and order situations, and other tricky issues also.
His working relations with the chief ministers during his long time remained cordial and smooth. The political parties, their leaders and the government officials and other circles continue to have great regard and respect for him even now.
Prior to his appointment as governor here, Vohra had served as principal secretary to the prime minister, defence secretary and home secretary. He was appointed as central government's interlocutor in Jammu and Kashmir in February, 2003 and continued till his appointment as governor on June 25, 2008.
Malik was appointed the J&K governor on August 22, 2018. This was after several decades that a politician was made the governor of the state. He had a long association with the BJP but was also associated with several other parties before joining BJP.
Prior to Malik's appointment, retired senior army officers, ex- intelligence chief and former civil service officer had served as the governors here for long time. They are Gen K V Krishna Rao, Girish Chander Saxena, Lt Gen S K Sinha and N N Vohra.
Unlike his predecessors Satya Pal Malik remained the governor for only a brief period – a year and two months, but he tried to create a number of controversies during his tenure and after that also. His controversial statements continue even now.
Presently, he is trying to target those who made him the governor of Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Goa and Meghalaya. The Pulwama terror attack, and Article 370 was abrogation happened during his tenure here.
He has been himself taking credit for peace in Kashmir after abrogation of Article 370 and saying " Aik Chadiya Bhee Nahi Maree." But now he is criticising the central government by claiming that prior to Pulwama attack, the request of CRPF for aircrafts to carry their people was not accepted.
Reacting to this, union home minister Amit Shah said if Satya Pal Malik's claims are true, why did not he say these things when he was the governor and was in power. "
Why is he making these claims now after leaving us and when he is not in power? These issues are not for discussion at public forum but I want to tell the people of the country that BJP government has not done anything which needs to be kept hidden," the home minister said at India Today Karnataka Roundtable 2023.
Asked whether the appointment of Satya Pal Malik as governor of J&K was a mistake in view of the controversies he is creating now, the home minister said, "He had worked for long in the BJP; First when Rajnath Singh Ji was the party President and later when I was the President. Some people change colours when they lose power. This happens in politics sometimes. These remarks (as made by Satya Pal Malik) are made for personal and political self interest after leaving us and should be evaluated by the people and media."
He also denied that the former J&K Governor was summoned again by CBI because he criticised the central government. "As far as my information is concerned, he was earlier called twice.
And since the investigation in the case is going on and when new proofs come up, more questioning becomes imperative," home minister said.
Soon after his appointment as governor here, Satya Pal Malik first targeted the J&K political leaders describing them "corrupt", having amassed wealth and created assets even outside Kashmir. This evoked a strong reaction from them. The "unmanned fax machine" at Raj Bhawan during his tenure on November 21, 2018 became the talk of the town.
On that day PDP-National Conference combine on one side and Peoples Conference Chairman Sajad Gani Lone on the other side had staked claims for forming the new state government but the then governor dissolved the assembly. Even after his departure from here, Malik continues to address functions in various states where he relates "Kashmir Kaay Qissay".
He would tell his audience during his long speeches about "corrupt J&K" leaders, "mistakes" of successive central governments in handling Kashmir and that how he successfully managed peaceful situation in J&K. Malik also tells them how "he succeeded in getting the support of Kashmiri youth, who were fed up with corruption and violence, and wanted to move on to become part of overall development and that how he created facilities for them in this direction."
He would also talk about the much mentioned fax machine, efforts by political parties to form the government just before the dissolution of J&K assembly and events before and after abrogation of Article 370.
He claims that he dissolved the assembly without consulting central government. Malik adds that neither NC-PDP combine nor Sajad Lone had the support of required number of MLAs.
According to him inviting any side to form the government would have been like leaving field open for horse trading. He says instead of sending a delegation to Raj Bhawan to stake claim for forming the government, the two sides chose fax and WhatsApp for doing so and that too on Eid day when all the employees in Raj Bhawan including the cook were on holiday.
"The governments are not formed through fax, WhatsApp and twitter," he said at various functions and interviews.
Malik would repeatedly mention about two scams, one about insurance. CBI later registered a case and summoned Malik twice and now third time.
Vohra, a recipient of Padma Vibhushan in 2007 for his services in civil services, was made governor at a time when J&K was in deep political crises. PDP pulled out from Ghulam Nabi Azad led coalition government with the Congress. After the fall of Azad government, Vohra had to handle a very tough law and order situation.
After the situation was finally brought under control assembly polls were held and National Conference and Congress formed a coalition government, which completed its full six years. After the 2014 assembly polls the PDP-BJP government could not complete its term as BJP pulled out.
After sometime, Vohra was replaced by Malik. Unlike Vohra, Malik tried to keep a high profile. He is trying to do so even now, and claiming that he would work for opposition unity. But can the opposition parties trust him because of his changing political colours?
Author is Senior Editor, Greater Kashmir
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.