LAHDC Polls: All Jump Into High Altitude Contest




With barely three days left for the polls of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh, parties have used all their resources to get their bit. With BJP’s campaign led by Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh and PDP having its Education Minister Naeem Akhter stationed in the desert down for many days now, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday only added to the tensions of others.

“Today PDP is campaigning more for BJP than its own candidates here,” Omar told a rally in Chushut. “Almost all their ministers are here and their only appeal to the people is to vote for anyone but National Conference. They are overtly campaigning for BJP candidates despite the political suppression of the state and the sentiments of its people by BJP.”

Omar said PDP and BJP are afraid of NC because it will never allow them to divide J&K on religious lines. “We know their designs and we will never let them succeed in dividing this State and polarizing its people for their petty political ambitions,” NC Working President said. “I have always been with you and have been keen in developing this region. Even when tragedy struck in 2010, I was the first one to land here with my team and ensured the victims are rehabilitated and helped as and where they needed.”

“Today the PDP-BJP government of Mufti Sayeed has brought the development of Ladakh to a standstill because of a clear lack of political will to develop this region at par with the rest of the State,” Omar alleged. “Almost all developmental projects started by the previous NC-led Government have been halted causing great inconvenience to the masses. The government has even gone to the extent of stopping work on the important bridge here sanctioned under STF. The complete and total failure of this Government is now beyond any doubt.”

Accompanied by NC leaders including Ali Mohammad Sagar, Nasir Aslam Wani and Aga Syed Ruhullah, Omar drove in a procession from airport to Thiksey where he called on Thiksey Rimponche.

Omar’s arrival in Leh has only added to the costs of others. Naeem Akhter, who has been handling the region for his party for some time is stationed in the town and is expected to return by October 21. With Legislative Council Chairman Inayat Ali, Rural Development Minister Abdul Haq Khan, Akhter had an impressive rally in Chushot for PDP candidate Liyaqat Ali.

BJP’s team that is trying to undo the reversal on assembly election outcome including Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh, Avinash Rai Khanna, its MP Thupstan Chhewang and Jr Minister Priya Sethi. Yesterday, they had an impressive rally at Khalsi. In Lok Sabha’s BJP exploited the religious and sectarian tensions in the region and managed winning by a narrow margin. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the region twice last year. The results, however, were reversed in the assembly elections when it could not win even a single of the four seats from the Muslim-majority Ladakh region comprising Kargil and Leh districts. As the polls are now being conducted at ward levels, BJP hopes to improve its tally and is planning a major show on Thursday.

Interesting part of this high-altitude contest is that all parties are in fray and separately. NC, Congress, BJP and PDP are contesting separately despite having formal and informal alliances. LAHDC has 26 berths and polls are scheduled for October 17.

Reports from Leh suggest that while the ruling coalition partners are campaigning separately, they are not hitting at each other.

Of the 26 seats, BJP and Congress have fielded their candidates in 25 segments. PDP and NC are contesting eight seats each. In eight seats where PDP is contesting, it is facing candidates from BJP in seven seats. A new local party New Ladakh Movement has fielded its candidates on 17 seats of the LAHDC.

In the entire contest, the real challenge is for the Congress to retain its leadership in the LAHDC. Led by Rigzin Spalbar, the Congress has retained the LAHDC for the last four consecutive terms, from the very start of it. It faced a late hour crisis when eight of its district Congress committee office bearers – Phunchok Wangdus, Skarma Stanzin, Tashi Chotak, Dorje Angchuk, Lobzang Tsultim, Urgyan Rangdol, Phunstog Wangtak and Dorje Namgayal resigned from the party. They accused their district leader of lacking leadership abilities and not even holding a single meeting in a year.

Authorities, in the meanwhile are making efforts to ensure the 80811 electorate has adequate facilities to participate in the exercise. At least for six polling stations – Skumpata, Lingshet, Depling, Neraks, Youlchang and Fotoskar, situation far away from urban Leh, choppers would be flying the polling staff and material.


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