Amitabh Mattoo's resignation proves Mehbooba Mufti cannot retain talent

He is the second prominent face from the Kashmiri Pandit community to have parted ways with the PDP.

 |  4-minute read |   28-11-2016
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For a man of wisdom, who has been on a strict liquid diet for five months, working as advisor to the government, which ensures endless cups of tea, should have been a blessing.

But for globally-acclaimed intellectual, Professor Amitabh Mattoo, being the advisor to Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, couldn't turn it into a healthy option he could stick to for long. Mattoo resigned on November 23.

A reason for this difference could be that she prefers to offer "chai cuppa" instead of a courteous "cup of tea", something which hogged the headlines during a press conference chaired by home minister Rajnath Singh on August 25 in Srinagar.

On the fateful day, Mehbooba apparently lost her cool when a journalist said she had swapped roles and views with National Conference president Omar Abdullah. While aborting the presser, she wanted the journalists to have "chai cuppa". It was her first, and till now the only formal interaction with media. The rest is history.

Resignation from the post of advisor doesn't seem to be a big loss for Prof Mattoo, an academician, already working as director of the prestigious Australia-India Institute in Delhi. Financially, however, it's a loss of one rupee to him.

Though enjoying the status of a cabinet minister, Prof Mattoo drew a token salary of only one rupee per month. He would equally not avail other benefits like travel expenses and accommodation that ministers are entitled to.

By losing a brain as significant as Mattoo, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led government has saved a rupee in the cash-starved country. But then it must have been a blessing for the J&K government to have a noted scholar, who is equally an authority on India-Pakistan relations, as one of its advisors.

After all, the 53-year-old academician, presently on leave from JNU, where he serves as professor of disarmament studies at the School of International Studies, has numerous achievements to his credit.

mehbooba-mufti22_112816033907.jpg Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti. (Photo credit: PTI)

He has been the member of the National Knowledge Commission, a high-level advisory group to the prime minister of India. On the academic front, he created history in J&K in 2002 when he became the youngest ever VC of Jammu University at 40. Full details of his achievements, are beyond the scope of this write-up.

Well, getting back to his resignation. As per Jammu-based newspapers, Prof Mattoo called it a day after a senior IAS officer misbehaved with him at a high-level meeting but the government remained silent. The government's silence in turn hinted that official's misbehaviour was a "fixed-match" against the advisor, who did meet the CM, before tendering his resignation.

Interestingly, it's the second major exit of a prominent face from the Kashmiri Pandit community from the PDP, after noted oncologist, Dr Sameer Kaul, resigned last year as the party's national spokesman.

Two months ago, in a similar situation, Mehbooba's government got transferred a prominent IPS official, SM Sahai, who is known for his "smart policing" in the state, on a central government deputation when Kashmir was on the edge.

In a classic case of staged witch-hunting, the state government reportedly spread a notion that Sahai was transferred as "punishment" for having been responsible for unrest in Kashmir.

Given his dynamic track record, he was likely to be the next DGP of J&K. But the Mehbooba Mufti-ruled state is turning infamous for giving unceremonious farewells to competent bureaucrats and officials.

All this suggests that either Mehbooba is intolerant to voices of wisdom, or she is herself the epitome of intelligence. In either case, her government is attracting disrepute among the saner voices.

Just a few weeks back, Prof Mattoo drew parallels between restive Kashmir and his health.

In the post titled "A Little Horror in Times of Nightmares: We need architects to build peace!" he said, "As the tragic summer of 2016 unfolded, I became a witness to the nightmares of Kashmir but also a victim to my own self-inflicted little horror."

He was referring to his being on a strict liquid diet for five months due to a rare dental problem whereby new implants had to be screwed into his "jawbones for fixation of new crowns with lifetime guarantee".

"Kashmir has aged more than six years in the last six months. What can we all do now to become the architects of durable peace? Can the Australian "diagnostic" experience help us navigate us through these troubled times?" Prof Mattoo concluded. A few days later, however, he resigned from the post.

Call it fate or coincidence, his story as the advisor to mehbooba Mufti is a stark reminder to a popular Persian proverb. And, incidentally, it too is linked to toothache, where the only remedy to pain lies in tooth extraction: Darde dandaan, ikhraje dandaan!

Also read - How Kashmir waits for its next generation to take the test


Majid Hyderi Majid Hyderi @majidhyderi

The writer is a journalist based in Kashmir.

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