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Drabu shocked the way his dropping was conveyed to him

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Defending his statements, says, it was made in the larger context of how our society has been ravaged and has impaired real-life situations and sensibilities  

Good old times. File Photo

Srinagar,  Mar 13: Senior PDP leader Haseeb Drabu today said that the decision to sack him as the finance minister came as a surprise to him, and the manner he was informed about it was shocking.

Drabu also said that he got no chance to explain his side and learnt the party's decision through the media.

"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 in a statement here.

Drabu,  the co-author of the ‘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, who was considered close to the BJP leadership, expressed gratitude to Chief Minister 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 jeopardised the security, peace and prosperity of the people of the state and imperiled stability in the subcontinent," he said.

“My association with PDP dates back to those years when I wasn't even formally into politics,” he said while recalling that “the rapport I enjoyed with its late founder and patron is something that I would cherish all my life.”

Drabu 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 pointsman 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.

Drabu said that even at the time of issuing this statement, he is yet to be informed formally, both by the government and PDP, about the decision of his ouster, and that he stands  informed about it “by the media, first as a speculation then as a fact.”

In a bid to “set the record straight”, he said the speech he delivered on the 9th of March 2018 focused on a thought “that has been on my mind: the role of civil society in resolving the issue of Kashmir”.

Speaking to a select gathering of Ambassadors and industrialists, who he said could be “possible investors in peace” in J&K, “I tried to make the point that Kashmir was not only a political issue to be resolved by the nation 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 the speech 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.

“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, I said, 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,” Drabu claimed as having said.

Asserting that he didn’t say what he said with any ulterior motive, Drabu said “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 percent of shareholding of the bank was with foreign institutional investors, not a single Indian institution was invested with the bank,” Drabu said.

He also referred to the June 14, 2014, keynote address in Srinagar along the same lines and went on to say that few days back, he spoke at the Indian Econometric Conference and asked the researchers to show 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 and 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,” he claimed, adding that what he has said “in no way goes against the articulated and stated political position of PDP; nor does it dent its image. It is, in fact, very much a part of the PDP’s political philosophy and agenda of reconciliation.”

Besides the ‘Agenda of Alliance’ between PDP and BJP, Drabu said “PDP’s political ideology is based on my drafting of various election manifestoes, the aspirational agenda, and the all-important Self Rule document, which Mufti Sahib involved me in.”

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