Three years ago, Rajpora celebrated the victory of PDP candidate Haseeb Drabu in the hope that he would become a minister and bring development to this rural constituency of Jammu & Kashmir. Now, with Drabu sacked as finance minister, many in Rajpora say it does not matter to them.
Drabu had won the election, his first, with 18,103 votes to National Conference candidate’s 13,830. Before entering politics, he had served as consultant to the Economic Advisory Council of the PM in the 1990s, CEO of J&K Bank, and economic adviser to the PDP government of 2003-2008.
“Nobody here is bothered about his sacking. We celebrated his victory and thought that being qualified and influential, he will change the face of villages in his constituency. But in the last three years, nothing has changed,” said Abdul Rashid Dar of Drabgam village. “Most people are upset that after getting elected he visited his constituency only twice and didn’t give an audience to those who had voted for him.”
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Before migrating to Srinagar, Drabu lived at Rajpora village in Pulwama. Most of his close relatives have moved out.
Javid Ahmad Mir, president of the Traders’ Association, Rajpora, differed with Dar: “In his three years, Rajpora village has seen a change. Our hospital has been upgraded and fresh machines have been installed. After Srinagar, Rajpora is the only place in the Valley with dialysis machines in the hospital. We also got an indoor stadium… Whenever people or workers visited him with small issues, he would tell them to come with big projects, not small issues.”
Mir said he would remain with Drabu. “After Drabu was sacked, I called him. Even if he goes with the BJP, I will remain with him.”
Three kilometres away, in Shajimarg Rajpora, villagers said they would have celebrated Drabu’s sacking if they had not been living close to an Army camp.
“We arranged 150 vehicles for Drabu during his campaign. We thought our area will get a influential representative for the first time, but he only visited once and no developmental work was initiated in our village or other villages,” said Manzoor Ahmad, an office-bearer at Shajimarg taxi stand. “Everyone is happy about his sacking, because he helped only a few persons and his relatives in Rajpora, and completely ignored the rest.”
Ghulam Hassan Wani, president of Auqaf Islamia, Rajpora, said describing Kashmir as a social issue — the speech that led to Drabu’s sacking — was a big mistake. He felt that the minister was too busy to visit his constituency frequently. “He did some good work here. Now his position as a politician has weakened, even in his seat,” Wani said.