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Drabu rebuffs Mehbooba’s offer to join PAC, says panel not ‘empowered enough’

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In letter, ex-J&K finance minister terms reorganisation and reconstitution of the PAC ‘more appeasement than atonement’.

New Delhi: Former J&K finance minister Haseeb Drabu has turned down the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti’s offer to nominate him to the party’s political affairs committee (PAC).  He also termed her attempt at “reorganising and reconstituting” the PDP as more “appeasement than atonement”.

Mehbooba had re-inducted Drabu into the PAC Friday.

Also read: Mehbooba brings back former PDP minister Haseeb Drabu to her party’s key panel

“The ongoing party reorganisation and reconstitution of the PAC appears to be a more of an appeasement than atonement. No wonder the party constitutional limit on members of the PAC has been breached,” Drabu said in a letter. “In addition to 18 members (as against the stipulated 11), there are 10 invitees taking the number to 28”.

He has further written that he is not “convinced that the PAC is genuinely empowered to pursue whatever is required to bring back the politics of the state from its current state of abyss”.

“I thank you for the nomination but regret my inability to be a part of this PAC… I wish the PAC positive and purposeful political deliberations for the betterment of the party and the people of the state,” his letter reads.

Drabu had been unceremoniously dropped as finance minister by Mehbooba in March this year after his remarks at an event in New Delhi, where he said Kashmir “isn’t a political issue”, led to a furore.

There have been suggestions that he and Mehbooba aren’t on the same page any longer. Drabu’s perceived closeness to the BJP was also a factor that went against him back then.

Fissures in the PDP

Drabu’s reservations have further indicated the fissures within the PDP.

“By publicly snubbing the offer, he is underlining that PDP chief’s efforts are too late too little,” observed Kashmiri commentator Sheikh Mushtaq.

“This is hardly an indication of whether the PAC would be of any impact. By getting so many members in the organisational setup, Mufti is trying to show that everything is hunky-dory within the PDP,” Mushtaq said.  “We must remember, this is happening amid the crisis over government formation and rumours of BJP poaching on Kashmir based parties”.

In the new set-up, Mehbooba has sidelined her closest confidantes, including brother Tassaduq Hussain Mufti and two uncles — Sartaj Madni and Farooq Andrabi.
The sudden decision to nominate Drabu came over a week after the rejig of the party organisation took place. At a time, when a disgruntled group of PDP members have been publically criticising Mufti and accusing her family of controlling the party, Drabu’s induction was seen as her way of placating him and other disgruntled elements.

Also read: Mehbooba Mufti revamps PDP after rebellion, drops brother and uncles

Incidentally, Drabu played an important role at the time PDP- BJP alliance was formed. Known to be close to PDP founder, the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Drabu was the key negotiator with the BJP at the time of government formation.
Asked if his refusal meant that he was planning to quit the party, Drabu refused to say anything. “I have made myself clear in the letter. You can infer from it. This is my official position right now,” Drabu told ThePrint.

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