With the old flock aging, the state's oldest and strongest political party National Conference (NC) has decided to hand the leadership to the young and the influential generation after a gap of eight years.
The ruling party has reconstituted the Youth National Conference (YNC), defunct for a decade now, to reconnect with Generation-X ahead of the parliamentary and assembly polls due next year.
"Yes, the decision has come after a long time. It was a necessity. We need to connect with the youth," said NC's provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani, a close aide of chief minister Omar Abdullah.
The selection of the 14-member YNC has been approved by Omar himself, with the key posts to be assumed by the sons of NC loyalists and ministers.
Salman Sagar, YNC's provincial president, is the son of NC's Srinagar face Ali Muhammad Sagar, who is the state rural development and panchayati raj minister. Similarly, Younis Mubarak, YNC's vice-president, is the son of Mubarak Gul, who is the state assembly speaker and an old an influential NC leader. NC stalwart Muhammad Sayeed Akhoon's son Saleem Akhoon has been appointed as the treasurer of the party.
Traditionally, the party strongly believes in political lineages. Most leaders, including chief minister Omar Abdullah, either are second or third generation leaders from various political clans associated with the NC.
Interestingly, the NC has also picked up Yawar Masoodi and lawyer Shabaz Sikander, sons of two state judges.
However, Wani dismissed the contention of taking only influential ministers and ex-ministers' sons.
"We have a fine balance of old members and newcomers. We consider not just their lineage, but also their performances as party members. Some have contested municipal polls and one might be contesting assembly polls next year," said Wani.
The new emerging faces also seem to be the outcome of the aging NC top-line leadership. The top-ranking NC leaders, which include 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 future in mind, and the reworking of the YNC will help create the second-rung leadership," said Wani.
Farouq Ganderbali, once close to the Congress in the Sheikh family's traditional constituency Ganderbal, has been appointed as the joint secretary of the YNC.
The NC, which ruled the state for the most part of its history since 1947, faced a major challenge with the inception of militancy in 1989. Hundreds of its cadres were killed and several dissuaded to shun the party for its strong pro-India leanings.