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Drabu finds an unexpected ally in National Conference

Haseeb Drabu, the former Minister of Finance, might still be recovering from the shock of being unceremoniously booted out by the Chief Minister, but he would have been no less surprised today at the news of support from an unexpected ally: the National Conference.
The main opposition party today sought to give a new twist to the sacking of Drabu, saying that there is more to his summary dismissal than meets the eye. The party believes that the sudden rollback of Pay and Accounts Office (PAO) system, introduced by Drabu a month ago, was a “major clue” to prove “beyond any iota of doubt” that the reason for his ouster was not the remark for which he lost the job, but his determination to push through fiscal reforms.
“The sudden rollback of PAO system by J&K government has exposed PDP’s moral smokescreen over sacking of Drabu,” party’s provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani and spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu said today.
Altaf Bukhari, the new Minister of Finance, as his first act of duty, gave the order of deferring the PAO until March 31, this year. He said it was needed because of “technical difficulties and inconvenience to public.”
The statement of NC came a day after its top leader Farooq Abdullah more or less complimented the PDP for sacking Drabu, by calling it a “right decision”. Abdullah said that Drabu had implemented Goods and Service Tax in the state and his party knew “what happened with that.” The extension of the GST to J&K was termed as “surrender” of state’s fiscal autonomy to the union government.
But the NC leaders, clearly taking political mileage out of the uncomfortable position that the PDP finds itself in, feel it was Drabu’s push for fiscal reforms in the state that cost him his job. “We believe Drabu inadvertently spilled the beans and publicly exposed the actual mindset of the PDP, a party which sacrificed last remnants of its ideological pretence to ally with the BJP. However, sudden and arbitrary rollback of Pay and Accounts Office reform brought in by J&K government just last month through the Assembly raises a huge red flag,” said the statement.
It further said: “It seems the PAO system was a reason for Dr. Drabu’s removal and the Chief Minister (Mehbooba Mufti) needs to be held to account – how can a reform that your Government pushed through the legislature just a month or so ago suddenly become untouchable and unacceptable?”

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