As Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti removed Finance Minister Dr. Haseeb Drabu from the Ministry for his comment that “Kashmir is not just a political issue” Mehbooba Mufti has hit at the architect of Peoples Democratic Party and BJP alliance in the State.
Observers here say that by sacking Drabu, Mehbooba has given clear message to the BJP that she will run and end the coalition on her terms and conditions will apply henceforth. Drabu was seen as pivot of the alliance between the two parties, which have different ideological and political outlook.
On Saturday in his address at an event themed 'Kashmir: the way forward' in Delhi, Drabu was quoted as saying J&K shouldn’t be seen as a conflict state and a political issue. Though Drabu quickly sent a long rejoinder saying the reporter of a news agency misquoted him, the PDP Chief had made her mind.
Drabu in his long response had said a cub reporter reported his speech in bits and pieces
"For, Kashmir is not just a political problem, but a social issue. Our society has been ravaged and we need to address that first. It is in this we seek your help", says text of the speech placed by Drabu on social networking sites, like Facebook.
Drabu had said "A cub reporters of PTI is the only source of news being disseminated since yesterday. The fact is that he has reported the speech in bits and pieces." Drabu had put his entire speech on Facebook but it didn’t change Mehbooba’s decision.
Around 130 ambassadors, government officials and business leaders attended the event. Drabu’s statement as reported by the news agency had evoked widespread condemnation from different parties including the PDP. The PDP vice-president Sartaj Madni had said "the party recognizes 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. Recalling the vision of Party Patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed , Madni, said that resolution of Kashmir problem formed core of his struggle and sacrifices."
While National Conference Sunday said “PDP’s declaration that Kashmir was not a political issue but a social issue was a shocking and shameful U-turn by the Party which, for years, sought support and votes primarily to help in the resolution of the political issue that has claimed thousands of lives and pushed the State into the throes of instability and suffering.”
The PDP and the BJP came up with the CMP or Agenda of Alliance in March 2015 after two month long negotiation with the BJP’s General Secretary Ram Madhav and Drabu.
In the AoA, the PDP got an assurance from the BJP to put Article 370 in deep freeze for six years. In the AoA, both the parties agreed to follow former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajapyee’s “Insaaniyat, Kashmiriyat aur Jamhooriyat” approach toward Kashmir while stating that the coalition government would facilitate and help initiate a sustained and meaningful dialogue with all internal stakeholders, which would include all political groups irrespective of their ideological views and predilections.
With the AoA talking about confidence building measures, such as, enhancing people to people contact on both sides of the LoC; encouraging civil society exchanges, taking travel, commerce, trade and business across the LoC to the next level and opening new routes across all three regions to enhancing connectivity, Drabu had succeeded in pushing PDP’s poll promises in the CMP.
Though CMP has conceded that both parties have historically held a different view on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the need for it in the State at present, as part of the agenda for governance of the PDP-BJP alliance, the AoA however says, the coalition government will examine the need for de-notifying ‘disturbed areas’. “This, as a consequence, would enable the Union Government to take a final view on the continuation of AFSPA in these areas,” the AoA reads.
About the return of power projects the AoA had said in order “to address the real source of J&K’s fiscal problem and pave the way for making J&K a fiscally autonomous state, the State Government will work with the Union Government to:
a. explore modalities for transfer of Dulhasti and Uri hydro power projects to J&K as suggested by the Rangarajan Committee Report and the Round Table reports,
b. secure a share in the profits of NHPC emanating from J&K waters to the state government
c. revise all royalty agreements.
However, none of the promises made in the AoA were translated into action in past three years. Instead the saffron party is accused of showing utter disregard towards the AoA with the NGOs’ affiliated with the BJP going to the Supreme Court seeking revocation of the Article 35 A and Article 370, which guarantee special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The PDP is also not happy with the Ministry of Power for being silent about return of any power project of the NHPC to the State. With no progress made on the AFSPA revocation and the dialogue process, the party presumed that the AoA was not honoured by the BJP and made Drabu to pay price for it.