SRINAGAR: The exit of former Jammu and Kashmir finance minister Haseeb Drabu from the Peoples Democratic Party has fanned rumours that the renowned economist may be contemplating joining the ‘third front’ led by the Peoples Conference chief Sajad Lone.

According to sources, Sajad Lone spoke to Drabu after his exit. Himself a former minister in the PDP-BJP government, Lone has managed the support of at least four former PDP legislators including former J&K sports minister Imran Ansari and his uncle Abid Ansari, in what is being described as the emergence of ‘northern alliance’.

Barring the resignation letter to the PDP president yesterday Drabu has not spoken about his exit, but the Valley is rife with speculation that he may also join the ‘third front’, or at least become part of, the next government in the border state that has been ravaged by turmoil over the last three years.

“That (Drabu joining hands with Lone) seems a remote possibility,” a close aide of Drabu told The Citizen, wishing anonymity, “He became an impediment for the corrupt practices of his cabinet colleagues (in PDP-BJP government) for which he had to pay the price. Though Sajad is his friend, it is very unlikely that the two have anything in common as far as their politics is concerned.”

The former finance minister had stayed away from the party affairs in last two years and recently refused to become member of the all powerful PDP’s PAC, “In this brief period (of PDP-BJP government), I got a full flavour of politics, in its fascinating range from principles, pledges, to perfidies!,” he wrote in his resignation letter to Mehbooba yesterday, stating he learned from Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who brought him into politics, that “politics was not the last refuge of the scoundrel”.

Drabu’s exit is another jolt for Mehbooba Mufti who is struggling to keep her party’s flock together. Last week, the party cofounder and senior leader, Muzaffar Hussain Baig, who was sidelined by Mehbooba in her stint as the chief minister, also hinted that he may join the ‘third front’.

The evolution of the ‘northern alliance’ has been a cause of much worry for the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party because some of the leaders from both the parties have worked with Sajad Lone’s father, Abdul Gani Lone, when his party used to contest the assembly election before the insurgency erupted in Kashmir.

Buoyed by the BJP’s support, Lone, whose party had two seats in the House of 87, is hoping to rope in more politicians from the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party in order to form a formidable alliance that may emerge as a serious contender for power in the next assembly elections.