Alone and Lonely

When the expelled finance minister Haseeb Drabu joined People’s Democratic Party in June 2014, it was a development that was long awaited.  He was already billed to take over as the new J&K finance minister, should the PDP win the then upcoming Assembly polls. And both these developments came along as foreseen. But this was not what was important about Drabu’s joining the PDP. It was his politics that was. And its contours had been provided by a series of the articles Drabu had written and the speeches he had made in the run up to his political plunge.  He had courted controversy by challenging the set codes of Kashmir’s politics and calling for re-imagining and rethinking the courses  advocated by the separatist groups for the resolution of Kashmir.

In his joining letter to the PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, the former banker had called for “a new ideological consensus that lies somewhere between the invasiveness of the integrationists and the imperviousness of the separatists”.  He was blunt about the toll that this binary had taken on Valley. But after the polls, Drabu spoke and wrote less. But the assignments he was charged with by the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and latter by his daughter and the current Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had a profound bearing on the politics of the state. With the PDP and the BJP emerging as the first and second largest single party, Drabu worked with the BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav to forge the Agenda of Alliance which became the basis of the PDP-BJP alliance.

In the important role of a Finance Minister in the government, however, Drabu settled into a quiet role. This also went well with his portfolio. He generally didn’t talk during the most troubled times in the state, say in 2016. Or during the turbulent phases in 2017. Similarly, he has been quiet in the course of his party’s recurrent ideological and political quarrels with the BJP. This silence hasn’t helped Drabu’s image and, in a sense, has come as a big letdown to the people who were curious to see his political philosophy in action – of course, within the framework of his party’s ideology.  But instead, they got a Drabu who effortlessly slipped into a bureaucratic indifference, staring sphinx-like at the most poignant of the developments. And the statements that he happened to make too were at variance with the political identity he had painstakingly carved for himself before he joined the PDP.  

But nobody expected him to characterize the problem in Kashmir as “a society with social issues”. It was distastefully ironical volte-face from a person who is the author of his party’s self-rule document, which advocates a Kashmir solution in its internal and external dimensions. So, as Drabu stands divested of his ministerial portfolio, there are hardly any people in the Valley who feel sad over the development or empathise with him.


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