How Congress and PDP lost Kargil

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Opportunistic politics by Asgar Karbalai proved counter-productive for both PDP and Congress in the district, reports KashmirLife

Asgar Karbalai

Asgar Karbalai

New political equations have emerged in Ladakh since the fall of Asgar Karbalai led Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council in Kargil. And in the process, Congress and PDP have paid a heavy price for subscribing to Karbalai politics.

“National Conference was the only alternative for the people to get rid of Karbalai whose politics was always disliked by people here,” says Ahmad Ali, a social activist. “Congress and PDP somehow manipulated a chance for Karbalai in which he worked against the aspirations of Kargilites.”

Karbalai entered active politics in 2003 when he was elected a councillor from LAHDC’s Poyen constituency following an agreement between Islamia School Kargil (ISK) and IKMT (Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust), the two most influential religious organisations of Kargil. The association between the two religious groups did not last long. In order to wipe out other political ideologies from Kargil, Karbalai floated a new ideology within his own group.

“We must not stick to political ideologies, but support any party in state which is in power so that we get more and more benefits for the district,” he said. The idea was opportune for a group of 11 other councillors who were sitting in opposition in the first Hill Council led by Qamar Ali Akhoon. This idea also suited MLA Haji Nisar Ali who had by then associated himself with Asgar Karbalai, and forgotten the support he had enjoyed from ISK during the 2002 Legislative Assembly elections.

First victim of Karbalai politics was PDP’s senior leadership in 2004. Karbalai and Haji Nisar Ali assured PDP patron a good party base in Kargil and in turn sort his help for toppling Qamar Ali Akhoon’s Council. PDP played key role, nominated 4 councillors on the recommendation of Karbalai, a controversial no confidence motion was hurriedly passed in August 2004 against Qamar Ali Akhoon and a way was finally paved for Asgar Karbalai to become the Chief Executive Councillor. Karbalai enjoyed the status of Cabinet Minister as Chief Executive Councillor of LAHDC Kargil and instead of floating PDP in Kargil he practiced his own political agenda. Karbalai never associated himself with PDP on ground. He used MLA Haji Nisar Ali as a trump card in the state politics. After PDP regime, he directed Ali to change loyalty. Ali echoed and formally joined Congress during a function at Srinagar. He again got a berth in state cabinet and Karbalai enjoyed patronage of Congress for the rest of years.

While Karbalai dissociated himself from PDP, he never associated himself with Congress on ground. National Conference leader Qamar Ali Akhoon describes Karbalai as the most ‘proudy and communal person’ in the history of Kargil who ‘used all undemocratic and illegal means to grab power’.

“During his regime he loved good food and victimised his political rivals, particularly the employees of minority community. But the people were aware of his greed and he was badly punished in LAHDC and Assembly Elections,” says Akhoon.

During the Hill Council and Assembly Elections, Karbalai and Haji Nisar Ali along with other leaders of the power hungry group wanted to conceal their identity. They somehow managed to persuade the Congress and PDP leadership and contested the elections as independent candidates instead on contesting on party basis. But people rejected the lot and they lost badly at the hands of ISK and NC alliance. Congress lost both Kargil and Zanaskar seats. Political analysts believe that the new alliance had done nothing concrete on ground but people of Kargil had no other option than to vote a party which was against Karbalai politics. The new alliance has been named as Kargil Progressive Alliance (KPA) and it has been able to seek support of two more important organizations like Anjumane-Sahibuzzaman Suru and Ladakh Union Territory Front.

The former is a popular organisation of Suru area of Kargil while the latter is popular in Zanaskar region, the Buddhist dominated pocket of Kargil. Both the organisations were known as arch rivals of ISK and NC till recent past.

About Author

A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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