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J-K's National Conference paves way for youth

india Updated: Nov 29, 2013 19:45 IST
Peerzada Ashiq
Youth National Conference

The National Conference (NC), Jammu and Kashmir's oldest and strongest political party, has decided to hand over the baton to young leaders.

With its old flock aging, the ruling party has reconstituted the Youth National Conference (YNC), which had been defunct for a decade, to reach out to young voters in the run-up to the parliamentary and assembly polls due next year.

"Yes, it has come after a long time. It was a necessity. We need to connect with the youth," said Nasir Aslam Wani, NC's provincial president and a close aide of chief minister Omar Abdullah.

The selection of the 14-member YNC has been approved by Abdullah. The key posts will be held by sons of NC loyalists and ministers.

Salman Sagar, YNC's provincial president, is the son of NC's Srinagar face Ali Muhammad Sagar, the state rural development and panchayati raj minister.

Younis Mubarak, YNC's vice-president, is the son of Mubarak Gul, the state assembly speaker and a senior NC leader. Party stalwart Muhammad Sayeed Akhoon's son Saleem Akhoon has been appointed as the YNC treasurer.

Traditionally, the party strongly believes in political lineages. Most of its present leaders, including Abdullah, are second or third generation leaders from different clans associated with the NC.

The NC has also selected Yawar Masoodi and advocate Shabaz Sikander, the sons of two state judges, for YNC posts.

However, Wani, the NC provincial president, dismissed the contention of selecting only influential ministers' and ex-ministers' sons.

"We have a fine balance of old leaders and newcomers. It is not just about their (the new leaders') lineage, but also their performance as party members," said Wani.

The rise of the new faces appears to be the result of the aging NC leadership. Top NC leaders such as Rahim Rather, Sagar, Gul, Mehboob Beg, Sharief-ud-Din Shariq and Choudhary Muhammad Ramzan are in their 60s and 70s.

"Yes, the move has been made taking the party's future in mind. The YNC will help create a second-rung leadership," Wani said.

Farouq Ganderbali, once close to the Congress in the Abdullah family's traditional stronghold Ganderbal, has also been appointed as joint secretary of the YNC.

The NC, which has ruled the state for the most part of its history since 1947, has faced a major challenge with the inception of militancy in 1989.

Hundreds of its cadres were killed and several forced to shun the party, which has refused to bow down before the separatists.