Srinagar: With regular setbacks to Mehbooba Mufti-led People's Democratic Party and Abdullah family's National Conference in Kashmir, the Valley is witnessing the rise of a powerful third force with Sajad Lone emerging as the new face of Kashmir politics.

The announcement of urban local bodies and panchayat polls in Kashmir saw the boycott of both the main state parties PDP and NC. However, for the first time, a Kashmir-based political party led by a winner of a mere two Assembly seats, Lone, has emerged as the voice of Kashmiri people winning all the major municipal and panchayat committees. 

A staunch believer of restoring democracy in Kasmir, Lone got the support of top PDP leader Imran Raza Ansari, who is also a religious preacher of the Shia community in the Valley. Ansari was the first voice in the PDP that lauded the rebellion against the khandani raj of Muftis and Abdullahs.

Following Ansari, another top National Conference leader and party spokesperson Junaid Mattoo distanced himself from NC. He contested the municipal election and later became the mayor of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation as People Conference's candidate.

Uncle of top Shia leader Ansari, Abid Ansari joined PC in Sringar followed by independent MLA from Kargil Mohd. Rizvi and PDP Spokesperson Abhijit Jasrotia in Jammu.

The rise of Lone is additionally attributable to the tacit support of the Narendra Modi government it has been enjoying, as Kashmiri's realise the virtues of good terms with the Centre.