Peaceful voting for 26-seat LAHDC Kargil
Eyes now set on Aug 31 counting
JAMMU, Aug 27: Over 72 percent electorates exercised their right to franchise to elect members to fourth Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Kargil as voting passed off peacefully in all 26 constituencies today with no adverse report being reported from any part of the mountain-locked district today. However, voting percentage could go up between 75-80 as exact reports of voting were yet to pour in from remote segments of Zanskar, where there were few communication channels.
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Fate of 99 candidates, who were in the fray for 26 constituencies including nominees of four major political parties-National Conference, Congress, People’s Democratic Party and Bharatiya Janata Party, besides some influential Independent candidates, has been sealed in the ballot boxes, which will be opened on August 31 for the counting at Administrative Block, Polytechnic College, Kargil.
Deputy Commissioner, Kargil, Vikas Kundal, who happens to be the Election Authority for the LAHDC Kargil, told the Excelsior on telephone tonight that over 72 per cent voting turnout has been recorded for 26 constituencies of the Council in the entire district.
“It was completely peaceful election with no report of any kind of clash or major dispute reported from any of the 258 polling stations set up for 83,844 electorates,” Kundal said, adding that voting percentage could go up as reports from some remote areas of Zanskar were yet to be received.
Sources said the voting percentage is likely to be between 75-80 when full reports of polling are received by tomorrow morning.
Highest turnout of 93.1 per cent was recorded at Saliskut and minimum of 22.3 pc at Barsoo segment. Tentative percentage in other segments included Chuliskamboo (70.5), Kargil Town (77.1), Baroo (74), Poyen (84.1), Yurbal Tak (81.5), Silmo (84.5), Choskore (65.9), Trespone (55.8), Gund Mangalpur (64.5), Ranbirpora (77.4) Lankarchey (76.1), Thangdumbur (82.4), Thasgam Thuina (61.2), Shakar (69.1), Chiktan (85.8), Stakchay Khangral (82.5), Bimbhat (57.9), Shargole (70.6), Pashkum (81.05), Taj Suru (84.9), Parkachik (70.3), Karsha (65.9), Padum (56.3) and Cha (66.1).
The Deputy Commissioner Kargil said it could take couple of days for ballot boxes from Zanskar to reach district headquarters of Kargil as they can’t take risk of night driving in the hilly areas. The ballot boxed would be brought to Padum and then Kargil. He added that Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel apart from the Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs) were accompanying the polling staff in entire district.
So far re-poll hasn’t been ordered in any of the polling station of 26 segments as there was no such demand from any candidate.
Polling started at brisk pace right from the morning in almost all 258 polling stations and by 10 am, there were long queues of the voters everywhere as it was a bright sunny day in almost entire Kargil district. Women outnumbered males at most of the polling stations
DC Kargil Vikas Kundal and SSP Kargil Dr Vinod Kumar besides other senior civil and police officers and Special Observers including Rajesh Sharma, Pradeep Kumar, Bilal Ahmad, Abdul Rashid War and Gulzar Ahmad Dar and Sonam Chohjor, Election Officer, visited various polling stations to supervise smooth conduct of the elections. Designated polling agents of all political parties and Independent candidates in the fray had been allowed outside the polling stations to monitor the election process.
After successful conduct of election and a healthy turnout, all eyes were now set on counting, which will start at 8 am on August 31 at Administrative Block of Polytechnic College, Kargil. All results are expected to be declared by the evening. It may be mentioned here that the Constitution of the LAHDC Kargil provides for use of ballot papers for the election and not Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
This was the fourth election to the LAHDC Kargil, which was established in 2003. All three previous Councils had completed their full five-year term.
Though four major political parties including National Conference, Congress, PDP and BJP are in the fray, a number of Independent candidates also hold good chances.
The majority marks in the LAHDC Kargil is 16. Election is held for 26 seats only while four Councilors with voting rights are nominated by the State Government taking total strength of the Council to 30. In the outgoing Council, NC and Congress had eight Councilors each while 10 others were Independents.
While National Conference and Congress generally hold sway over voters in Kargil district, which comprised two Assembly segments of Kargil and Zanskar, the PDP and BJP have, of late, made forays into the district and contested the current election with full force. Top leaders of all four political parties canvassed for their candidates in the elections.
BJP is the only party, which has entered into alliance with the group of Independent MLA from Zanskar, Bakir Rizvi while National Conference, Congress and PDP contested the poll on their own, except for supporting Independents on some seats.
BJP contested on 20 seats and Rizvi’s group on remaining six.
Out of two Assembly seats of Kargil district, Kargil Main is held by Congress leader Haji Asgar Ali Karbalaie, former Chairman-cum-CEC of the LAHDC Kargil and Zanskar by Independent MLA Bakir Rizvi. In the previous Assembly, both seats were held by National Conference. PDP and BJP have never won an Assembly seat in Kargil district. However, BJP holds Ladakh Lok Sabha seat, which comprised district Kargil.
The outgoing Council had fractured mandate with neither National Conference nor Congress gaining majority.
In view of fractured mandate, the present Council was marred by various political controversies and saw three Chairpersons-cum-Chief Executive Councilors during five years outgoing tenure.
Initially in 2013, Congress leader Haji Asgar Ali Karbalaie was elected as Chairman-cum-CEC of the Council. However, as Karbalaie was elected as Congress MLA from Kargil in 2014 Assembly elections, National Conference virtually captured the Council by supporting Independent Councilor Haji Mohammad Hanifa Jan for the post of Chairman. Later, with PDP at the helm of affairs, an Independent Councilor Kacho Ahmad Ali Khan, who had unofficially joined the PDP, became the Chairman-cum-CEC with the support of Congress Councilors and is still continuing on the post.