Sacked Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu this evening issued a statement to press which we are producing here as it is without any editing.
Even as I issue this statement, I have no formal or even personal communication either from the government or from the party about my being dropped from the Cabinet on 12th of March. I stand informed by the media first as a speculation then as a fact.
I deem it necessary to set the record straight.
On the PHDCCI Speech:
The speech I delivered on the 9th of March 2018 focussed 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 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.
It 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.
There have been innuendoes that I said this 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.
For the record, on 14thJune 2014, I delivered a keynote address in Srinagar along the same lines. An abridged version was published on 18th June, 2014 in Greater Kashmir. 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.
To the best of my understanding and knowledge, this 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.
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 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.
On the Party statements and action:
The sequence of events that unfolded is as follows: I delivered the speech at the PHDCCI event on 9th of March in the evening.
On the 11th of March 2018on my return from Delhi, I saw a press statement of the Vice President, Mr 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.
By evening a letter from Mr.A R Veeri, Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee was delivered at my residence. It asked me to explain my statement which ‘has caused a serious dent to the image of the party.’ I called Veeri Sahab but he was probably unable to take my call. He had later called back as I saw a missed call from his number.
Next day morning I spoke to Veeri Sahib 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 Daily Greater Kashmir 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 decision to drop me did come as a surprise but what was shocking was the manner and method of communicating it. While I understand and accept the decision of the Party, to take to media before talking to me, was painful. I was not accorded the opportunity to explain the context and the content of my speech.
Notwithstanding this, I am very grateful to Mufti Sahib and Mehboobaji 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.
My association with PDP dates 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. The unflinching confidence that he always reposed in me 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 points man 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 President.
If there is one thing that I feel very proud of in my political stint in Kashmir till now, it is that I was Mufti Sahib’s Finance Minister. My association with Mufti Sahab dates back to 2003 when he appointed me as an Economic Adviser to the government headed by him. It was Mufti Sahab who inspired me and indeed persuaded me to join the politics as according to him politics provides the best instrument to serve the people and bring change in their lives.
When I was asked by the Party President to contest 2014 Assembly elections from Rajpora constituency, it was an honour and I was overwhelmed by the support extended by the people of the area to PDP’s inclusive and progressive policies resulting in my maiden election as an MLA from the area. I assure the people of the area that I 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.
I am committed to work for the welfare of the people of the state in whatever capacity I am in now. At a personal level, for me and my family, it is Dejavu! And since God has been kind to me there is no reason for me not to trust in his benevolence this time round. I stand by my choices, political or otherwise. And firmly believe that he knows best!"