Syed Junaid Hashmi
Someone has rightly said “Jammu and Kashmir is graveyard of reputations”. Who knows it better than ex-Finance Minister Dr. Haseeb Drabu and PDP’s Member Parliament (MP) from Baramulla Muzaffar Hussain Beg alongwith state Education Minister Syed Altaf Bukhari? Even a long Facebook post failed to convince commoners in Kashmir valley that Dr. Drabu was not BJP’s man in PDP. He is being accused by so-called intellectuals and academicians of Kashmir valley alongwith party workers of colluding with BJP to cause damage to the constitutional position of the state.
There is even a coterie which has started spreading rumours of Dr. Drabu being given an important position in the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for his closeness with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely and BJP’s pointman in Jammu and Kashmir, Ram Madhav. A BJP leader from Jammu who is known for his strong RSS connections remarked in public “He is a nationalist and an asset. We would be happy to have him in BJP. He is an economist par excellence.”
Whether these comments should be taken seriously or not is debateable but fact remains that Dr. Drabu was unceremoniously thrown out of the state cabinet by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti without even seeking an explanation from him for his comments. Thus, his reputation has taken a sound beating and he can no longer claim that he was not suspected of having chosen New Delhi friends over the party (PDP) which made him what he was few days back.
Dr. Drabu is likely to make a comeback but he would be a different Finance Minister now. He would have to keep in mind who the boss is and when to speak and what to speak. He would have to keep a safe distance from his friends both in BJP and National Conference (NC). He would have to request his friends not to send him home cooked food during his stay in Jammu and Kashmir House in New Delhi. He would have to ensure that he is no more a suspect. And that he doesn’t give Vice-President of the PDP Sartaj Madni, a reason to snub him publicly.
And Dr. Drabu would now be anything but can no longer claim what he once used to; that he is a ‘Kashmiri nationalist’. The political grapevine is that his friends both in the central leadership of BJP and also surprisingly in opposition National Conference (NC) are using all means of communication to somehow get him back his position in state cabinet. Dr. Drabu has now had two unceremonious exits. Prior to this present embarrassment, he was told to put-up his papers as Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Bank in the year 2009 immediately after NC-Congress coalition took over.
He was removed despite close friends in National Conference (NC) using all means to prevent his ouster but the then Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather remained adamant and he was left with no option but to put up his papers. Dr. Drabu took to writing articles in the friendly newspapers wherein he would criticise every move of the state government and call himself loudly a “Kashmiri Nationalist”. He criticised every move of the then Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather.
Dr. Drabu wrote a long essay in a Kashmiri based daily after the state changed it’s banker from Jammu and Kashmir Bank to Reserve Bank of India (RBI). He cautioned the state and even went on to say that the move was detrimental for financial health of the state’s own bank. He would often write about how the economy of Jammu and Kashmir could be made robust and how National Conference (NC) was not interested in taking concrete steps for making the state economically self-reliant. He would not desist from the speaking the language of the ‘separatists.’
Dr. Drabu’s articles and opinion pieces would generate heated debate both on the social media as well as in the intellectual circles of Kashmir valley. But here he is today, removed as Finance Minister of Jammu and Kashmir over the charges of allegedly colluding with BJP and if that is a little harsh, Dr. Drabu is out because he lost trust of his leader. Whatever the cause but the reputation which Dr. Drabu enjoyed prior to becoming wirepuller of the PDP-BJP coalition is gone.
His Facebook post, among all other reasons was an attempt by him to resurrect himself as a Kashmiri Nationalist who compromised to save his nation while shaking hands with BJP but the opinion pages of Kashmir based dailies are an indicator that those who viewed him as ‘Kashmiri Nationalist’ now call him a collaborator. And it would not be possible for him to get his lost image back till the time, his party is in power and he cannot promise ‘Self-reliance’ again.
He would be back with a sting in his oratory as well as writing skills once the present set of claimants of ‘Kashmiri Nationalism’ (read NC) get back to power. But till that time, he would be called nothing but a collaborator. This has been the tragedy of Kashmir. You become ‘Human Rights Defender’ out of power and in power, you are called ‘Collaborator’.
Dr. Drabu should have understood that not individuals but blessed families political parties in Jammu and Kashmir. Alliances are not subservient to the individuals who weave them but between willing political partners, who are ready for any compromise for being in power. Dr. Drabu, as and when he comes back should burry his Journalistic ego and intellectual arrogance.
He should tell his conscience that he is not a Journalist or an economist now but an elected MLA and hence, he has no option but to work as a loyal soldier of a political outfit. He should stop believing that wisdom and political sagacity comes with Degrees from Yale and Harvard. Those from Yale and Harvard are working on the payrolls and those whose Degrees are under cloud are leading nations and getting applauded for their intellect and wisdom.
Note: This is an old write-up and was written within days of ex-Finance Minister Dr. Haseeb Drabu being shown the door. It was sent to several newspapers but it failed to qualify the editorial standard test. So, publishing it here.