Kargil : With elections just a few days away, the political temperature of the polls soars up in the mountainous Kargil district of cold desert region of Ladakh.
The polls for the 5th General Election of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Kargil are scheduled for September 10. Atleast 89 candidates are in fray for 26 hill council seats while the candidates in the fray are pulling all stops to ensure they are able to catch the voters’ attention. Campaigning for the elections slated on September 10 are underway in the district. Political parties and independent candidates have started door-to-door campaigning. They have also come up with their separate election manifesto and agenda for the election. Deputy district election Officer Kargil, Khanzada Osman told Greater Kashmir that there are a total 89 contesting candidates in fray for the 26 hill development council constituencies.
"Atleast 194 candidates had filled the election nomination out of which 105 candidates withdraw their nomination, adding that 89 are contesting candidate now," the official said. He said that out of 89 candidates, 47 are independent candidates, 17 from BJP, 21 from INC and 04 candidates from AAP. He said that there are 278 polling stations set up in the district. " All the preparations are done for a smooth and fair elections " the official told Greater Kashmir.
Meanwhile, seeking to expand the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s footprint in the cold desert region of Ladakh, it has forayed into the Kargil hill council elections by fielding its four candidates. People's Democratic Party (PDP) which had two Councilors in previous council in 2018 elections. However, later both the PDP Councilors switched over to BJP. This time the PDP is out of the contest with no candidates in fray. In a significant political development, the two prominent political parties including National Conference (NC) and Indian National Congress (INC), have joined hands for the upcoming LAHDC Kargil general elections. The two parties NC and INC have came together and announced a pre-poll alliance ahead of the LAHDC Kargil general elections. Both NC and INC are also part of Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) an amalgam of political, social, religious and trade organizations seeking statehood for Ladakh, Constitutional Safeguards under Sixth Schedule and separate parliamentary seats for Leh and Kargil. Though the National Conference hasnot been alloted its plough symbol for the elections by the election department of UT Ladakh and now the matter is subjudice with the Supreme Court likely to announce judgment regarding the matter on Wednesday. On the other hand, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will go alone in the hill council elections. In 2018 elections BJP had won only one seat. The contest is seen between the NC-Congrress alliance and BJP.
Notably, The autonomous hill councils in both Kargil and Leh districts are key to local governance and development. Still, since the change in the status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, the locals have claimed that the council has lost most of its powers to the UT administration. The first hill council was formed in 1995 for the Leh division and later in Kargil in 2003, where the last council polls were held in 2018. The Councils are elected for a term of five years. The council has thirty members, of which 26 are directly elected. The four remaining seats are nominated.
A Chief Executive Councillor (CEC) with a portfolio equivalent to a cabinet minister leads the council with an executive committee of five members.