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Dr. Drabu Dropped

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Next Fin Min: Baig, Bukhari, Akhtar? For the moment, portfolio will rest with CM

Dr Haseeb Drabu.File Photo

Srinagar: As the finance minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Dr Haseeb Drabu was today dropped from the council of ministers in PDP-BJP led government, speculations about his successor are going wild.

Drabu, one of the architects of the PDP-BJP alliance in the state, was today removed from the council of ministers by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti over his reported remarks that the Kashmir issue was not a political one, official sources said.

The chief minister in a communiqué to the state Governor N N Vohra requested him to drop Drabu from her council of ministers with immediate effect, PDP sources said.

The Governor conveyed his nod, sources 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 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.

Following the sudden development, the state cabinet meeting scheduled tomorrow was deferred by a week.

"JK State Cabinet meeting which was scheduled to be held tomorrow at 12.30 pm has been postponed. It will now be held on 20, March, 2018 at 11 am," J&K's Department of Information and Public Relations tweeted.

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.

However, as per an official communiqué, the portfolio will be held by the Chief Minister.

In an order: 427-GAD of 2018, issued today, the Chief Minister made it clear that all the departments held by Drabu will henceforth remain under charge.

Some sources within the party hinted that CM may even consider getting its MP from Baramulla, Muzaffar Hussain Baig back and to head the ministry.

“In absence of Drabu, we don’t have a presentable face in the council of ministry except the CM. Baig is the only choice, only if his health allows,” said some sources within the party.

In present dispensation the only economist, besides Drabu, is Sajad Gani Lone. However, he not being part of PDP, may not have a chance to hold the portfolio.

The PDP had yesterday asked Drabu to retract his statement as it was against the party's stand.

"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.

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