By A. Aalim Ahmad
Srinagar: Under attack from finance minister Haseeb Drabu since May 30 when the budget proposals were presented in the Assembly, National Conference on Friday launched a counter-offensive against him apparently to blunt the lone effective weapon in the ruling People’s Democratic Party’s arsenal.
While Drabu continued to target the opposition party for its “misdeeds while in power”, the NC brought a privilege motion against him and accused him of being “arrogant and anarchist”.
Visibly perturbed, Drabu sought apology if his demeanour appeared so.
The war of words between Drabu and NC legislators continued in both houses of the legislature. While winding up discussion on the budget in the legislative council, Drabu repeated what he has been saying in defence of his budget. He pinpointed several legislators’ objections and sought to prove that they were baseless and uncalled for.
While delivering an aggressive speech in the Upper House, he little knew that the NC has come prepared to frustrate him in the Lower House.
Shortly after the assembly resumed following a brief adjournment, senior NC legislator Mohammad Shafi Uri announced that he has brought a privilege motion against Drabu for imposing his budget proposals on the state much before they were passed by the state legislature.
He also referred to Drabu’s reaction on the issue in a newspaper wherein he described the opposition’s stand on the issue as “untrue and totally misleading”.
Uri said that the implementation of budget proposals without due passage amounted to breach of privilege of the house.
“Therefore, I request the mater may be referred to privileges committee,” Uri said.
He said that he has submitted the privilege motion at 10am as per the rules 238-240 of the business procedure as read out the contents of the motion.
Speaker Kavinder Gupta said that he would examine the privilege motion. “I will accordingly inform the house,” Gupta said.
A few minutes later, assembly secretary Mohammad Ramzan went up to visibly upset Drabu and handed him a Xerox copy of the privilege motion.
But, there was more to come from the NC’s arsenal. Senior NC leader Ali Mohammad Sagar, while introducing cut motion on Drabu’s finance, labour and culture ministries, launched a frontal attack on him.
“I wonder how an asset has become a liability. There is no room for arrogance in politics,” he told a squirming Drabu.
“Behave like a minister. You are no longer JK Bank chairman. You are the finance minister,” Sagar said. Sagar sought to prove that Drabu’s scathing attacks on NC were baseless.
“Two years ago, you announced that you would issue a white-paper (on the functioning of Omar Abdullah government). Where is that white paper?” he said.
He said that not issuing the white paper means that “your claims do not hold any ground.”
Sagar defended NC regimes led by Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah. “Whatever forward movement was made in the power sector, it was during the NC governments,” he said and asked the PDP government to spell out what progress they made in the power sector.
Drabu was brief in his reaction to the scathing attack. “I apologise if at any moment I would have offended any member of the opposition,” he said.
He said that his reference to Tagore Hall was not demeaning to the decorum of the house. “I only wanted that the legislators read the budget and engaged in a constructive debate,” he said.