JAMMU, Mar 13: A day after being dropped from the Cabinet, Dr Haseeb Drabu today came out with a lengthy two-page statement in which he stood by his remarks saying they were not against “articulated and stated political position’’ of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) but, in fact, were part of the party’s political philosophy and reconciliation. He maintained that this was not for the first time when he made such remarks and that he had earlier also been speaking on the similar lines in various functions and those remarks had been carried by the media.
Dr Drabu, however, lamented the manner in which he was dropped from the Cabinet without being given any opportunity by Chief Minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and Disciplinary Committee chief Abdul Rehman Veeri. He regretted that he came to know of all developments pertaining to his removal from the Cabinet through media. “Even at the time of issuing this statement, I have no formal or even personal communication from the Government or from the party about my being dropped from the Cabinet yesterday,’’ he said.
“To the best of my understanding and knowledge, this (my remarks on Kashmir problem) in no way goes against the articulated and stated political position of the PDP. Nor does they dent the party’s image. They are, in fact, very much a part of the PDP’s political philosophy and agenda of reconciliation.
“As for my understanding of the political ideology of PDP, it is based on my drafting of various election manifestoes, the aspirational agenda and the all-important Self Rule document, which late Mufti Sahib involved me in. Indeed, the terms and conditions based on which the current PDP-BJP alliance was formed, the Agenda of alliance, was drafted under his guidance,’’ Drabu said in his statement, the text of which was released to the media, late this evening.
Drabu said the speech he delivered on March 9 in New Delhi focussed on a thought that has been on his mind on the role of civil society in resolving the issue of Kashmir.
“Speaking to a select gathering of Ambassadors and industrialists, who could be possible investors in peace in Jammu and Kashmir, I tried to make the point that Kashmir was not only a political issue to be resolved by the State of India and the successive Governments at the Centre and the State, but that there is a social issue that needs to be resolved at the level of the civil society,’’ he said, adding his statement was made in the larger context of how our society has been ravaged and has impaired real-life situations and sensibilities especially of the youth.
He said: “as an example, relevant to the Ambassadors present, I quoted the case of the travel advisories of various countries, in this context, which may be politically induced but on ground are effectively acting as a social boycott of Kashmiris. This in turn engenders a political thinking that is isolationist. The need as such is for civil society institutions to get involved and make interventions in their areas of influence to resolve the social issues pervading our society’’.
Dispelling the impression that he was made to give statement with an “ulterior motive’’, the former Finance Minister, who has been credited with initiating series of reforms in financial sector during three-year stint, said: “there have been innuendoes that I said this (the statement) or was made to say this with an ulterior motive. The fact is that it is a long-held belief and I have repeatedly said it that the engagement with Kashmir should be at various levels. When I was the Chairman of the J&K Bank, I used to lament the fact that while as around 40% of shareholding of the bank was with foreign institutional investors, not a single Indian institution was invested with the bank’’.
Citing examples that he had earlier also spoken on similar lines, Drabu said: “for the record, on 14th June 2014, I delivered a keynote address in Srinagar along the same lines. An abridged version was published on 18th June, 2014 in the newspapers. Only a few days back, I spoke at the Indian Econometric Conference and asked the researchers to show me a single research they would have done in J&K. I called it the “Apathy of the Academia”. The same is true for engagement at the levels of individuals, intelligentsia and trade & commerce. Those who heard my speech or care to read it dispassionately will know that when I was talking about our aspirations and the efforts at self-discovery, I was in fact nuancing the very stand of the People’s Democratic Party before a very select audience’’.
Drabu said that Chief Minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti’s decision to sack him as the Finance Minister came as a surprise to him and added the manner in which he was informed about it was shocking.
Drabu said that he got no chance to explain his side and learnt the party’s decision through the media. The senior leader, however, added that he bore no ill will against anyone.
“The decision to drop me did come as a surprise but what was shocking was the manner and method of communicating it,” Drabu, seen as the architect of the ruling PDP-BJP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir, said.
Drabu, the co-author of Agenda of Alliance between the two parties, was dropped from the Council of Ministers yesterday following his remarks that Kashmir was not a political issue.
The former Finance Minister said he understood and accepted the party’s decision to drop him but it was painful that it was through media that he came to know about.
“While I understand and accept the decision of the party, to talk to media before talking to me, was painful. I was not accorded the opportunity to explain the context and the content of my speech,” he said.
Drabu expressed gratitude to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for giving him the opportunity to contribute towards accomplishing the PDP mission.
“Notwithstanding this, I am very grateful to Mufti (Mohammad Sayeed) Sahib and Mehbooba ji to have been given the opportunity to contribute in whatever small way I could in accomplishing the party patron’s vision of addressing the distressing situation in and around Jammu and Kashmir which has jeopardized the security, peace and prosperity of the people of the state and imperilled stability in the subcontinent,” he said.
“My association with PDP dates back to those years when I wasn’t even formally into politics. The rapport I enjoyed with its late founder and patron is something that I would cherish all my life’’, Drabu added.
He said the “unflinching confidence” that Mufti (Mohammad Sayeed) always reposed in him and the relationship of trust that “we shared, is my source of strength” to endure this situation.
“Not for nothing did he entrust me with the task of negotiating with the BJP and make me the pointman for the alliance which was later continued by Mehbooba ji. Every single meeting, discussion and negotiations were done with the knowledge and consent of the patron and the (party) president,” he said.
Drabu assured people of his constituency, Rajpora, in Pulwama district that he will continue to work for them.
“I am very grateful to them for their love and affection. I must thank Mehbooba ji for reposing trust in me which helped this Government to set off so many pioneering initiatives in the specific area of public expenditure management and generally in the fronts of economic development. I bear no ill will against anyone. That’s simply not my way of being,” he added.
Narrating the sequence of events that unfolded during past four days, Drabu said he delivered the speech at the PHDCCI event in New Delhi on March 9 in the evening.
“On March ii, on my return from Delhi, I saw a press statement of PDP vice president, Sartaj Madni, asserting that resolution of the political problem of J&K is the core agenda of the PDP and asking me to retract the statement I had reportedly made in Delhi,’’ he said, adding that the same evening a letter from A R Veeri, Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee was delivered at his residence, which asked him to explain my statement which ‘has caused a serious dent to the image of the party.’
“I called Veeri but he was probably unable to take my call. He had later called back as I saw a missed call from his number,’’ he recalled.
“Next day morning I spoke to Veeri and he suggested that I should talk to the party president and the Chief Minister. I called the CM residence in New Delhi and was told that CM was busy and would call me back in 10 minutes. That call never came. By early afternoon I called up the CM residence and sought an appointment. Even as I was waiting for it, it was reported on the website of the newspapers that the CM had decided to drop me from the Council of Ministers and had written to the Governor to this effect. I finally got a call to meet the CM at 7.15 pm,’’ the former Finance Minister said.