Following the sacking of Jammu and Kashmir finance minister Haseeb Drabu, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has started asserting herself on her ministers, especially those from ally BJP. She held a meeting with the administrative secretaries of all departments and conveyed to them that she will not tolerate any laxity in the delivery of good governance. The BJP leadership in Jammu and in New Delhi are not happy with some of the recent decisions of Mehbooba Mufti, including the treatment meted out to Drabu, and also the CM’s refusal to hand over the Kathua rape case to the CBI, as has been demanded by the BJP ministers.
CM Mehbooba seems to be addressing her core constituency in the Kashmir valley and has started pressing the Centre for opening channels of conversation with the Hurriyat through interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma. Official sources told this reporter that CM Mehbooba is finalising the list of youth and political activists to be released from jails, most of whom were arrested post the Burhan Wani turmoil in the summer unrest of 2016. CM Mehbooba is also pressing her top police brass to extend the general amnesty given to the youths involved in stone pelting incidents from 2008 to till date. “We have to give a healing touch to the people as promised by us. Even the Army commanders on ground have said that they have done their work on the ground by Operation All Out in south Kashmir,” PDP spokesman Rafi Ahmed Mir told this reporter.
The BJP leadership of Jammu is not happy with Mehbooba Mufti who snubbed some BJP leaders in a recent meeting, and told them that she is ready to leave her chair but not allow any interference by the BJP ministers in police investigations in the Kathua incident, said insiders who have knowledge about what transpired in the meeting. A senior BJP minister told this newspaper that recently they were summoned by the party high command to New Delhi and were told to address the issues of the people of Jammu region without any delay. Party insiders said that the central leadership is also contemplating to bring some fresh faces in the state Cabinet, besides fulfilling some poll promises in Jammu region. Reports said that Mehbooba Mufti may also go for a reshuffle of her ministers if the BJP decides to induct fresh faces as she has given the portfolios of Haseeb Drabu to Altaf Bukhar as additional charge. By sacking Drabu, who had said at a public address that the Kashmir issue was more social than political, Mehbooba Mufti has tried to convey to the BJP that she will be more assertive in the coming days.