SRINAGAR: The sacking of Haseeb Drabu as Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister signals hard posturing by the ruling PDP and should be a point of worry for coalition partner BJP.
Drabu, 57, is believed to be very close to BJP vice-president Ram Madhav, and the two had stitched together the PDP-BJP alliance after Jammu and Kashmir threw up a fractured mandate in 2014.
He also played a key role in sorting out matters when Mehbooba Mufti demanded a renegotiation of the terms of the alliance after the death of then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed.
Considered ambitious and arrogant, Drabu was sacked after he said on Sunday that Kashmir was neither a conflict zone nor a political issue.
The statement is against the PDP’s stand that Kashmir is a political issue that needs a political settlement.What Drabu said is somewhat similar to the BJP’s stand that Kashmir is not a political issue but a law and order problem, and that the only point of contention is the occupation of Pakistan-administered Kashmir by Pakistan.
Drabu’s sacking by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is, therefore, being seen as hard posturing by the PDP and an attempt to regain the party’s lost constituency in the Valley. Altaf Bukhari, the Education Minister, was given additional charge of Finance.
Bukhari had recently said that the PDP was not averse to snapping ties with the BJP if justice was not done to the family of an eight-year-old girl, who was abducted, raped and murdered in Kathua in January. Drabu sounded upset at the manner of his removal.
In a statement, he said: “The decision to drop me did come as a surprise, but the manner and method of communicating it what was shocking. While I understand and accept the decision, to take to the media before talking to me was painful. I was not accorded the opportunity to explain the context and content of my speech.”
On his next steps, he said, “I am committed to work for the welfare of the people of the state in whatever capacity I am now. At a personal level, for me and my family,it is Déja vu! And since God has been kind to me there is no reason for me not to trust in his benevolence this time round. I stand by my choices, political or otherwise. And firmly believe that he knows best!”