Thupstan Chhewang

Last week, Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) member of parliament from Ladakh constituency, Thupstan Chhewang, 71, took everyone by surprise when he wrote a letter to the Lok Sabha Speaker and also state BJP chief Ravinder Raina saying he was quitting his seat and also primary membership of the party with immediate effect on “health grounds”. However, there are reports citing BJP sources that the resignation was the result of the party’s failure to deliver on development.

“I have to inform you that I am resigning from primary membership of the BJP on health grounds with immediate effect,” Chhewang wrote in his letter to J&K BJP chief Ravinder Raina. “I am also writing separately to the Hon’ble Speaker, Lok Sabha, resigning as MP from Ladakh Parliamentary constituency.”

Chhewang has been founding chairman of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh from 1995 to 2004, an institution for which he fought as the founder of Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA). He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2004. His 2014 stint is the second in parliament.

Thupstan Chhewang

On October 28, Dorjay Motup, chief executive councillor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh, who was elected as the CEC in February this year after the sudden demise of Dr Sonam Dawa Lonpo, had also resigned from the post on health grounds.

After the resignation of Motup, former personal assistant to Chhewang, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal was elected as youngest CEC of LAHDC on November 10. Before his association with the MP, Namgyal was active in student politics and close to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Sources said Namgyal is a close associate of BJP’s state president Ravinder Raina.

The resignation of both leaders is likely to cause enormous loss to the BJP in the next year’s Lok Sabha elections in Ladakh where it has virtually been wiped out in the recent elections for the Kargil’s LAHDC and the municipal council of Leh. The Congress won all 13 seats of the Leh’s municipal council and the BJP could secure only one of the 26 seats of the LAHDC of Kargil.

It was for the first time that the BJP in 2014 won the Ladakh Lok Sabha seat as Thupstan Chhewang, an influential member of the Congress, resigned, and joined BJP, to contest the election. He was reportedly promised a ministerial berth at the Centre if he won the seat. However, he was not feeling comfortable in the BJP that failed to fulfil any of the electoral promises, sources close to Chhewang said. Moreover, he had been marginalised soon after winning the election. Reacting to Chhewang’s resignation, former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted: “2 of the 6 Lok Sabha seats from J&K will now be vacant till the general elections. Anantnag has been vacant for more than 2 years now & Ladakh falls vacant once this resignation is accepted”.

There were reports that Thuptsan Chhewang and Motup were humiliated by certain junior level BJP leaders of Jammu and Delhi following the party’s rout in the municipal elections as a result of which both decided to quit.

–Tahir Bhat

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