A day after he was sacked as Jammu and Kashmir finance minister, Dr Haseeb A Drabu said the move came as a surprise and that he was not “accorded the opportunity to explain the context and the content of his speech”.”What was shocking was the manner and method of communicating it,” he said. “While I understand and accept the decision of the party, to talk to the media before talking to me was painful. I was not accorded the opportunity to explain the context and the content of my speech.”Speaking at ‘Kashmir: The Way Forward’ in New Delhi on Saturday, Drabu had said that Kashmir should not be seen as a conflict state or a political problem, but as a society with social issues.Drabu, who is a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) MLA from Rajpora constituency of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, said he called Chief Minister (CM) Mehbooba Mufti’s residence in New Delhi on Monday, but was told that she was busy and would call him back in 10 minutes.”That call never came,” he says, adding, “By early afternoon, I sought an appointment with the CM, and even while I was waiting for the confirmation, it was reported on the website of a newspaper that the CM had decided to drop me from the council of ministers and had written to the Governor to this effect. I finally got a call to meet the CM at 7.15 pm.”Clarifying his stand on the speech, he said he tried to make the point that Kashmir was not only a political issue to be resolved by the nation state of India and the successive governments at the centre and the state, but that there is a social issue that needs to be resolved at the level of the civil society.Drabu’s clarification notwithstanding, sources said PDP’s alliance partner BJP is not happy with the decision, given Drabu’s role as a pointperson and crisis manger to salvage the coalition. Sources said top BJP leaders from Jammu and Kashmir have been called to Delhi to discuss the latest political situation in the state.However BJP’s National vice-president and in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir affairs, Avinash Raj Khanna, said, “The decision has been taken by the Chief Minister, who has the discretion to drop or retain any minister. This is an internal matter of the PDP and has to do nothing with the working and the stability of PDP-BJP alliance.”Meanwhile, crisis within the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP has deepened after another MLA questioned the party’s decision to sack Drabu. Javid Beigh, PDP MLA from Baramulla constituency, said, “There is no doubt that he (Drabu) was an asset. I feel he was not given enough time to explain or defend himself. Principles of justice demand that the quantum of the punishment for any mistake be equivalent to the fault one has made.”

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Party spoke to media before they spoke to me, says Haseeb Drabu