For assessing nature of Kashmir issue, Drabu no more a minister in Mehbooba government

TNN Bureau. Updated: 3/13/2018 10:38:12 AM Front Page

JAMMU: While Kashmir issue awaits its resolution even after 70 years, ‘assessment’ of its nature has resulted unceremoniously removal from the council of ministers of Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu, once regarded as’ Lakshman’ along ‘Ram’ Madhav in stitching the alliance of PDP-BJP in Jammu and Kashmir, over his remarks that the problem was not only a political one, but social too.
Following the political firestorm set off across the state by the statement which he clarified was ‘misquoted’ and ‘reported selectively’, Drabu was removed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday after getting approval by Governor N N Vohra.
While PDP’s coalition partner Bharatiya Janata Party has termed the sacking of Drabu a major setback to the alliance of north-pole and south-pole in state, main opposition National Conference asserted that firing Drabu from the cabinet won't salvage the party of its wrongdoing in the last three years of power.
Later in the evening, putting all speculations to the rest, Chief Minister retained the coveted finance portfolio to herself, along with other departments held by Drabu.
As the things unfolded on Monday, Mehbooba Mufti, who returned from the national capital to Jammu, shot off a letter to the Governor N N Vohra requesting him to drop Drabu from her council of ministers with immediate effect.
Credible sources said that the letter was sent after a meeting between the CM, senior PDP leaders and legislators.
The Governor, after examining the letter, wrote back to the chief minister conveying his nod to her request to drop the 57-year-old Drabu from her council of ministers, officials said.
Following the sudden development, the state cabinet meeting scheduled tomorrow was deferred by a week.
As the night set off in the politically hot arena of the state, Mehbooba Mufti announced that she will retain the portfolios held previously by Drabu.
“In pursuance of Rule 5 of the Jammu and Kashmir Government Business Rules, and consequent upon acceptance of the recommendations by the Hon'ble Governor in regard to dropping of Dr. Haseeb A Drabu from the Council of Ministers, the portfolios of Finance, Labour & Employment Departments shall henceforth remain under my charge,” the official release read.
Earlier in the day, political circles remained buzzing with the speculations of the coveted finance portfolio going to chief minister's trusted aide and Works Minister Naeem Akhtar and Education Minister Altaf Bukhari.
The sacking of Drabu, an eminent economist and the main architect of the BJP-PDP alliance and its agenda of governance, came a day after the Peoples Democratic Party asked him to retract what it said was "detrimental to the party's interests".
Since yesterday, pressure was mounting on Drabu, who played a key role in stitching an alliance with the BJP during Mufti Mohammed Sayeed's tenure earlier and again when Mehbooba Mufti became the chief minister, after newspapers published his remarks that people were "barking up the wrong tree" as the Kashmir issue was not a political issue.
"It (JK) is not a political issue as far as I can see. They have been barking up the wrong tree for the last 50 or 70 years by talking about the politics of it; that the political situation has never improved. We seriously need to look at in terms of how it is a society that is in search for itself," Drabu had reportedly said at an event organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi on Friday.
He last night wrote on a Facebook post that he was quoted out of context and that his speech at a function in Delhi was carried "in bits and pieces" in a news report.
Opposition parties and separatist leaders targeted the Mehboob Mufti government for Drabu's remarks saying the comments were a "proof of surrender", "misleading and distortion of history" that amounted to the PDP's sellout of its self-rule demand "to remain in power".
Drabu, a former Business Standard editor, was known to be close to late Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed, father of Mehbooba Mufti.
He plunged into politics in 2014 when he joined the PDP and successfully contested the Assembly elections from his home constituency Rajpora in south Kashmir's Pulwama district.
He was the chairman and CEO of the Jammu & Kashmir Bank from 2005 to 2010.
He was the economic advisor to the state during the PDP-Congress coalition that came to power after the 2002 elections.
Drabu began his economist career in 1990 when he was appointed with the Perspective Planning Division of the Planning Commission. He was also a consultant to the Economic Advisory Council of the Prime Minister and finally with the 10th Finance Commission. He also served as a consultant to the Asian Development Bank.

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