Will Darbu's exit affect PDP-BJP ties?

By Sheikh Qayoom The decision by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to drop Haseeb Drabu from her council of ministers for his remarks at a business meet in Delhi is being hotly debated in political circles – especially what its consequences could be on the state’s PDP-BJP ruling coalition. By doing what she has done, the Chief Minister has proved that she is prepared take political risks — and taking her for granted is something her colleagues and allies should learn not to do. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders were aghast after Drabu, who was the Finance Minister, was quoted as telling a meeting organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi that Kashmir was not a political problem and a conflict state but a “social problem”. He said this while seeking investments in the state from businessmen and saying the conditions in the state were conducive to business “where you will find some very interesting opportunities” not just to make money but also to have “a lot of fun and enjoy yourselves”. PDP Vice President Sartaj Madni had said this was something which negated the very existence of the PDP because it is the firm belief of the party that Kashmir is political problem that needed political remedies to resolve. Interestingly, instead of voices being raised in Drabu’s favour by his own party men, leaders of the PDP’s coalition unlikely partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seem to be more worried about the decision to drop him. Some senior BJP leaders have rushed to Delhi to discuss the development and its fallout on the ruling coalition with the central leadership of the party. How important Drabu had been for the PDP was proved not once, but many times in the past. The late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed trusted him to work out the terms of the agenda of alliance with BJP National Secretary Ram Madhav that finally paved the way for the present PDP-BJP coalition. “Mufti Sahib always loved him and would overlook what some of his party men would say about Drabu Sahib,” said a PDP insider, not wishing to be identified. In a letter released to the media after he was dropped from the cabinet, Drabu expressed sorrow for not being told by the Chief Minister or her office about the decision to drop him. “I read it on the website of daily ‘Greater Kashmir’. I tried to call the Chief Minister, but was told she was busy and would call back. I waited, but my call was never returned,” he rued. He also said in his letter that he had been quoted out of context by the media and that he what he had said was that Kashmir is not only a political problem, but that “we must also look beyond this”, Drabu clarified. Sayeed made Drabu his economic advisor during his 2002 chief ministerial tenure and later made him the chairman of the local Jammu and Kashmir Bank. In fact, Drabu became the point man between the PDP and the BJP after the 2014 assembly elections. The problem is that many PDP leaders had of late started saying that Drabu was more of “Delhi’s man in Kashmir rather than Kashmir’s man in Delhi”. Drabu is reportedly very close to Ram Madhav, the powerful BJP leader who is in-charge of Kashmir affairs, which many say “cost him his job”. It is this image that has been floating around in the PDP that finally cost him his berth in the state cabinet. While even Mehbooba’s political adversaries, including the National Conference President, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, have welcomed her decision, her allies in the BJP are not happy at all about her decision. “What did he say? He said it is a social problem and Kashmir is a society in search of itself. Is this wrong? We don’t think this is something for which such a harsh decision should have been taken,” a senior BJP leader told IANS, not wanting to be named. His successor, Syed Altaf Bukhari, who has been assigned the finance portfolio, took a major decision immediately after taking over. Bukhari announced that the decision to replace the old treasury system by the Pay and Accounts Office (PAO) has been put on hold. The ambitious PAO system was Drabu’s brainchild. Bukhari’s decision has been welcomed by hundreds of contractors in the state who had been on strike during the last 13 days demanding their pending payments and suspension of the PAO system at least till March 31. Would Drabu’s ouster be a storm in a teacup or would it have repercussions on the PDP-BJP ruling alliance in the immediate future? Ironically, Drabu’s PDP colleagues say it won’t be, while the BJP leaders in the state say it would. (IANS)]]>

Autonomy for Kashmir: Who stands where?

The autonomy issue and who stands where Kashmir’s accession to India was predicated on it getting a special status in the Indian Union, that the Centre would only be responsible for defence, communications and foreign affairs. This was done by means of Article 370, supposed to be a temporary provision in the Constitution but one that became de facto permament because the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir dissolved itself in January 1957 without abrogating or changing it. Later rulings of the Supreme Court, and one as recently as 2015 by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, have made the article permanent. Article 35A, inserted into the Constitution by a presidential order in 1954, seeks to preserve the demographic status of Jammu and Kashmir by defining permanent residents of the state for the purposes of buying immovable property, getting a state government job, admission to a professional college, scholarship or aid. The validity and expanse of this article is being considered by the Supreme Court now. BJP: The abrogation of Article 370 and 35A is one of the pillars of the right wing’s view of the state and its further incorporation with India. The BJP campaigned aggressively for this aggressively in the Lok Sabha polls of 2014 and the Jammu and Kashmir elections of the same year. A status quo prevailed in the Agenda of Alliance that the party came up with when it partnered the Peoples Democratic Party to form a coalition government in the state. That hasn’t kept them from talking about it though. “The prevailing situation in the Valley shows that Article 370 has created a separatist psyche and acts as a breeding ground for separatist emotion.” BJP spokesperson Vijender Gupta in August 2017

The Vajpayee doctrine
The Vajpayee doctrine on Kashmir called for peace, progress and prosperity in the Valley by imbibing the spirit of Insaniyat (Humanity) , Jamhuriyat (Democracy) and Kashmiriyat (Identity of the people of Kashmir). The doctrine was hailed across Jammu and Kashmir, including by extremists. Vajpayee’s mantra included resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan, including Jammu and Kashmir, peacefully through bilateral dialogue without any third party intervention. He carried his message of peace to Pakistan during a bus journey to Lahore on February 19, 1999.
Congress: It stands for the much-denuded Article, but takes a fine line on not pushing a strong line on autonomy. “Article 370 (3) read with Art 370 (2) clarifies 370 cannot be repealed without the consent of the Constituent Assembly which does not exist. No brainer.” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari in May 2014 National Conference: All for it. Seeks the pristine autonomy of the pre-1953 era. In June 2000, the state Assembly passed a resolution seeking greater autonomy for the state. Farooq Abdullah was chief minister at the time. The resolution was roundly rejcted by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government of the time, the Union Cabinet saying “it would set the clock back and reverse the natural process of harmonising the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir with the integrity of the nation.” Peoples Democratic Party: Is for its own dressed-up version of autonomy that it calls self-rule. In partnerig with the BJP, the Mehbooba Mufti-led party is in a distinctly uncomfortable place on this issue. Separatists: By definition, self-determination or independence is their goal. They do not see autonomy as a goal, much less a desirable interregnum. Most of the current lot in the splintered Hurriyat were part of the Muslim United Front that contested the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections of 1987, their poll manifesto invoking the Shimla pact, Islamic unity and real autonomy. The MUF got almost a third of the popular vote but only four seats in elections that were widely believed to be rigged. The Farooq Abdullah-led National Conference in partnership with the Congress came to power, and the last chance to bring back disaffected elements of the population had been lost, some now say forever.  

Rishi Kapoor backs Farooq, gets trolled

Bollywood star of yesteryears Rishi Kapoor took to Twitter to back Farooq Abdullah. Here’s what happened then: And the bashing started: (Reproduced tweets do not reflect Lokmarg editorial policy) // ]]>