Arjun Sharma | Oct 26, 2020 | 4 min read
Jammu: While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was able to win the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh elections, the party has suffered a setback as it came down to 15 seats from 18 seats it had won in 2015. This was the first election after the bifurcation of J&K into two Union Territories.
Congress won nine seats in the cold desert. The party had won five seats in last election. While National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not contest the LAHDC polls, first timer Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was not even able to open its account.
However two independent candidates also won from Chushul, and Nyoma, both located close to Line of Actual Control (LAC) where Indian and Chinese troops have been standing eyeball to eyeball since months now.
The elections to LAHDC Leh were held on October 22 amid the Covid-19 pandemic as well as Chinese aggression in Ladakh. BJP has been able to consecutively wrest control of the council for two times. It was for the first time able to win the council polls in 2015, a year after the party had won Lok Sabha polls.
One of the major reasons why BJP had to witness decline in its seats despite the fact that the only Member Parliament (MP) from Ladakh comes from the saffron party is due to the doubts among the Ladakhis regarding the sixth schedule. Residents of Ladakh are demanding sixth schedule to protect their environment and culture from outer influence. When the region was a part of J&K, it was protected due to Article 370 that did not allow ‘outsiders’ to buy land in the state.
However it was not only the demand for sixth schedule but also the choice of candidates that helped Congress in gaining seats. Rinchen Angmo, a journalist based in Leh believes that Congress had fielded young and new faces than BJP that became a major reason for increase in number of seats for the former.
“People in Ladakh who were already disturbed due to doubts regarding implementation of sixth schedule, found fresh and young faces as more promising. This became a reason that Congress was able to gain seat share in the council” said Angmo.
BJP was expecting above 20 seats as the party had fulfilled the demand of Ladakhis for making the region a UT. The demand was there for over 30 years but successive governments had ignored it. It was before the Lok Sabha polls in 2014 that the announcement was made by senior BJP leader and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari that Ladakh will get UT status which came true only in 2019.
BJP MP from Ladakh, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, tweeted, “Major victory for BJP in UT Ladakh. BJP won 15 out of 26 seats in the Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council. BJP will form LAHDC Leh once again”.
BJP candidate Kunzang Lotus from Hundar said that the party won because it had fulfilled all the promised it had made. “Creation of UT for Ladakh was one such promise that no party had ever tried to fulfill. It was the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi under which such a mammoth task was undertaken people got what they wanted. The party has won the election with a majority and will form the council” said Lotus.
He said that work on the Zojila Tunnel has started and that is another reason for the victory of the party.
On the other hand Congress believes that the results are a mirror to BJP and its “false promises”.
Rigzin Tsering, a Congress candidate who won from Sakti constituency said that his party gained four seats while BJP lost three seats. “Even as BJP won the polls, it cannot claim that it is a thumping victory as the party has actually rolled down to 15 seats from 18 in 2015. It is due to the lies and false promises that BJP was not preferred by a large number of people”.
Tsering further said that his party would continue fighting for sixth schedule that will ensure a safe future for the people of Ladakh.
Interestingly BJP had lost Thiksay constituency in 2018 by-election to Congress that it was able to wrest again this time.
More stories published under