Srinagar: State’s Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu, one of the architects of the PDP-BJP alliance in the state, was unceremoniously removed from the council of ministers by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday over his remarks that the Kashmir issue was not a political one, officials said.
The chief minister, who returned from the national capital to Jammu, shot off a letter to the state Governor N N Vohra requesting him to drop Drabu from her council of ministers with immediate effect, PDP sources said.
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.
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 said at an event organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi on Friday.
With Drabu out of the finance ministry, the race for the coveted portfolio began with chief minister’s trusted aide and Works Minister Naeem Akhtar and Education Minister Altaf Bukhari being seen as front-runners.
Sources indicated that while Bukhari may land the job eventually, the chief minister might retain the finance portfolio for the time being.
“The party takes serious note of the statement made reportedly by Haseeb A Drabu in a function at New Delhi regarding the nature of problems in J-K and has asked the minister to retract the statement immediately if it has been reported correctly in the media,” PDP vice-president Mohammad Sartaj Madni had said here.
“The party recognises Jammu and Kashmir as a political issue and ever since its emergence, the party has relentlessly been pursuing its resolution through reconciliation and dialogue – both at internal and external levels,” he added.
Meanwhile, the party’s disciplinary committee has asked Drabu to explain to the party that why did he make this statement.
“The statement attributed to you about the nature of problem of Jammu and Kashmir has been reported in the news paper for last two days in which you are reported to have said that J&K is not a political problem but involves only social issues. As you are aware this contradicts this very belief and core agenda of the party which you reportedly said at highest level. Your statement has the potential of creating a serious dent in the image and credibility of the party. Therefore you are advised to explain as to why statement detrimental to party interests was made,” read the show cause notice issued by Chairman of disciplinary committee of the party Abdul Rehman Veeri. PTI