Arjun Sharma | Aug 31, 2018 | 4 min read
NC-Cong alliance set to claim LAHDC Kargil council, BJP only opens its account
Jammu: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its former alliance partner in Jammu & Kashmir, Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) barely managed to win one and two seats, respectively, in the Muslim-dominated Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Kargil elections. The counting of manually cast votes started and concluded Saturday morning, after nearly 75% voters turned out on polling day, 27 August.
The Council comprises 30 seats, four of which are nominated. Of the 26 seats that went to polls, the National Conference (NC) managed to win 10 and Congress bagged eight. The two parties are expected to go into an alliance to take control of the LAHDC. A total of 99 candidates were in fray for the 26 seats.
While the BJP opened its account at the LAHDC by claiming the Buddhist-dominated Cha with a thin margin of 30 votes, PDP got only two seats - Shargole and Chiktan - in the council. At Cha, BJP candidate Stanzin Lakpa got 552 votes defeating Congress’ Tenzin Sonam.
The BJP had lost to Congress the LAHDC Leh bypoll held on Thiksay seat in June. The party, however, seems content with the fact that it could open its account in the Kargil council polls.
BJP state spokesperson, Brig (retd) Anil Gupta, said that the NC and Congress had portrayed the BJP as an anti-Muslim party, but “we have been able to make our presence felt in Muslim-dominated region of Kargil. People have accepted our agenda based on development”.
Several seats witnessed a close contest in the Kargil council polls. The Shargole seat bagged by PDP by a margin of 68 votes was a Congress stronghold in 2013 polls. Similarly, Altaf Hussain of NC won the Chuliskambo seat by a paper-thin margin of 10 votes defeating independent candidate Reyaz Ahmad Khan. At Poyen seat, M Amin of NC won by a margin of 16 votes defeating Congress’ Asgar Ali.
The polls turned out to be an exercise in reclamation for the NC and Congress workers who were waiting for an edge in elections since long.
NC president and Member of Parliament Farooq Abdullah told Firstpost over phone that the “divide and rule policy of saffron party has again failed”. Abdullah said that the people of J&K were now agitated over lack of development and failure of BJP-PDP alliance. “We will ensure full fledged development of Kargil,” he said.
The Congress was, however, expecting a better show in the LAHDC elections, which were being considered an acid test ahead of both, the Panchayat and municipal polls scheduled later this year, and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Congress MLA from Kargil Asgar Ali Karbalai expressed his dissatisfaction over the results, saying that Congress lost six seats by a thin margin. “We could have been in a position to form the council on our own had we not lost these six seats” he said. When asked whether Congress will form an alliance with NC, Karbalai said, “anything was possible in politics and this (alliance with NC) seems to be the best option so far”.
Political commentator and historian Hari Om believes the Muslims of Kargil have rejected BJP completely and even Buddhists have abandoned the saffron party due to its false promises in J&K. “BJP would meet the same fate in Jammu region in 2019, if it continues to ignore the demands of people, despite having won all of its 25 seats in Jammu region alone in the last assembly polls,” says Om.
In 2013, Congress was able to win 10 seats in the council whereas the NC and independent candidates also won eight seats each. Congress had formed the council with the help of independents.
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