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PDP sacks Haseeb Drabu for ‘J-K not political remark’; Omar says Drabu’s speech cost him dearly

Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu resigned from his post after his comment that the dispute in the state was “not political” created a controversy.

india Updated: Mar 12, 2018 22:48 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Haseeb Drabu,Kashmir dispute,Jammu and Kashmir
Haseeb Drabu arrives to present Budget 2018-2019 in J&K Legislative Assembly during the budget session, in Jammu .(PTI)

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday sacked finance minister Dr Haseeb Drabu from the council of ministers following his remarks that Kashmir was not a political issue, a leader of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party said, pleading anonymity.

“The chief minister, who returned from the national capital to Jammu, shot off a letter to governor NN Vohra requesting him to drop Drabu from her council of ministers with immediate effect,” the leader said.

The governor wrote back to the chief minister conveying his nod to her request to drop the 57-year-old from her council of ministers, officials said.

Drabu had made the “controversial” remark at an event organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi on March 9 to invite foreign and domestic investors to Jammu and Kashmir.

“It (J&K) 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 was quoted as saying in some media reports.

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”.

Drabu earlier wrote on a Facebook post that he was quoted out of context and that his speech was carried “in bits and pieces”.

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”.

“If Kashmir is not a political problem, then why is interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma here and why India and Pakistan fought four wars since 1947,” said senior Natioanl Conference leader Ali Mohammed Sagar.

The PDP has always termed Kashmir as a political issue.

It’s a setback: BJP

The BJP termed the decision to sack Drabu a “setback” to the alliance and said it would widen the gap between the two allies.

A top BJP leader praised Drabu’s role in coordination between the two parties and said he was often the bridge between the state government and the Centre over a host of issues.

He also recalled that Drabu played an important role in the formulation of the GST.

Drabu was the PDP’s pointsman who worked out the draft of the agenda of alliance with the BJP that brought the two ideologically different parties to power after the 2014 elections produced a hung assembly.

Drabu’s speech cost him dearly: Omar

Former chief minister Omar Abdullah said Drabu’s speech in New Delhi has cost him “dearly”. “Will be interesting to see who replaces him in the finance ministry,” the National Conference working president said.

(With agency inputs)

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First Published: Mar 12, 2018 16:51 IST