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Kashmir remark fallout: Drabu dropped from Cabinet

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Jammu: Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed with minister Haseeb Drabu speaks with media during the press conference, in Jammu on Sunday. PTI Photo(PTI3_1_2015_000099A)

Srinagar, Mar 12: The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday dropped Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu from the council of ministers over his remarks that Kashmir “isn’t a political issue” but a society with “social issues”.
PDP Vice President Sartaj Madni told The Kashmir Monitor that Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has written a letter to Governor NN Vohra, advising him to drop Drabu from the council of ministers.
Asked if PDP was planning to remove Dr Drabu from the party as well, Madni said the party “would take a call on it in the future”.
Soon after CM’s letter, the governor approved PDP’s proposal of terminating Drabu from the Cabinet.
The development comes after Drabu, speaking at an event in New Delhi on Friday, was quoted as having said by Press Trust of India: “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,” PTI quoted Drabu saying at the event organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
PDP Minister Altaf Bukhari, as per local news agency KNS, too confirmed that the Chief Minister took the decision of dropping Drabu from the cabinet.
“Party’s agenda is supreme. It is lesson for others not to make such comments, which goes against the interests of the party and people of the state,” Bukhari was quoted saying by KNS.
Following the sudden development, the state cabinet meeting scheduled to be held on Tuesday 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 be now be held on 20, March, 2018 at 11 am,” Department of Information and Public Relations tweeted.
With Drabu out of the finance ministry, the race for the coveted portfolio began with the chief minister’s trusted aide and Works Minister Naeem Akhtar and Education Minister Altaf Bukhari being seen as front-runners.
Quoting sources, Press Trust of India, said that while Bukhari may land the job eventually, the chief minister might keep the finance portfolio with her for the time being.
On Sunday, PDP, taking strong note of Drabu’s remark, said the party recognises Jammu and Kashmir as a political issue ever since its emergence.
“The party has relentlessly been pursuing its resolution through reconciliation and dialogue, both at internal and external levels,” Madni said on Sunday.
He asked Drabu to retract the statement immediately if it was correctly reported in the media.
PDP also sought explanation from Drabu for making a statement it said was “detrimental to the party’s interests”.
“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,” reads a notice issued by chairman PDP’s disciplinary committee AR Veeri to Drabu on Sunday.
“The statement attributed to you about the nature of problem of Jammu and Kashmir has been reported in the newspapers 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 very belief and core agenda of the party which you reportedly said at highest level,” Veeri said.