On Thursday, former finance minister of Kashmir resigned from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) officially. The move is a major setback to Mehbooba Mufti who has been grappling with rebellion within the party ranks for months. Earlier, the former Jammu and Kashmir Finance minister was sacked by the former chief minister Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti from the cabinet for his remarks on Kashmir.
Drabu, who won his seat on the ticket of PDP in 2014 was the favourite of the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. He was subsequently made finance minister, because of his capabilities. Drabu then served as the economic advisor to the PDP/ Congress government from 2003-2008.
Drabu, the MLA from Pulwama district’s Rajpora constituency, started his career in 1990 with the Planning Commission of India and then served as the consultant to the Economic Advisory Council of the Prime Minister. Drabu was also associated with the Tenth Finance Commission and was a consultant to the Asian Development Bank. However, the 53-year-old economist’s political career kick-started after the 2002 J&K Assembly elections when the PDP-Congress coalition came to power and when he was made the chief economic adviser.
Later, he served as the CEO of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank from 2005 to 2010 but was sacked soon after the National Congress government came to power in 2008 due to his closeness with the PDP. However, in 2014, the PDP-BJP alliance came to power after which Drabu was appointed as the finance minister of the state.
It is also said that Drabu played an instrumental role while negotiating the terms and conditions of the agenda of the PDP-BJP alliance. Even the late Mufti Sayeed appreciated his efforts saying that “Drabu has shown us a lot of dreams, let’s see if those dreams are fulfilled”.
In 2015, the equation between Drabu and Mehbooba Mufti became uneasy, when the wife of Drabu criticised the chief minister for the killing children, blinding and maiming protesters and encountering Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. Besides that, the arrogant style of Drabu, insulting and abusive remarks from other members of the party spoiled their relationship.
The sacking of Drabu underlines sharp cracks within the PDP at a time when Mufti has publicly upped the demand for talks with Pakistan on Kashmir and her party has been at loggerheads with partner BJP over several issues. In his resignation letter addressing Party president Mehbooba Mufti, Drabu stated that it was time for him to say goodbye to the party. “It has been exactly four and a half years since I joined the J&K PDP. I may not have enjoyed every moment of it, but when I look back at it, it has been an enriching and enlightening association,” he wrote.
“You are aware that I had resigned from the cabinet, assembly and party nearly two years ago which you didn’t accept. I have disengaged myself from party affairs for quite some time now. I didn’t precipitate the matters because I believe it is ethically and morally wrong to leave the party under whose aegis one has contested and won the seat in the legislative assembly. Now that it is over, I am hereby resigning,” he added. Drabu also paid tribute to the party founder late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. He wrote that “working with party founder had made me to realise that politics is not the last refuge of scoundrels! Occasionally, people with intellectual integrity, personal honesty and moral courage can also be found here. I was exceptionally lucky to have worked with him. I just hope that when history judges Mufti sahib and his decision to ally with the BJP, it does so in the context and with the complexity that it deserves.”
The PDP was hit by a rebellion soon after its former ally BJP withdrew support to it on June 19 this year, bringing a sudden end to the Mehbooba-led government in the state. From 21 June, the state is under governor rule. Days later, seven former legislators of the party, led by former minister Imran Raza Ansari, rebelled against the party leadership. While two former legislators returned to the party fold later, Ansari joined Sajad Lone-led Peoples Conference which is the third front in J&K. Another senior PDP leader and the party’s co-founder Muzaffar Hussain Baig has also hinted at joining the “third front”.