83,000 voters to decide fate of 99 candidates
QRTs, para-military deployed in 258 stations
JAMMU, Aug 26: A keen contest is on cards among four major political parties including National Conference, Congress, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the elections to Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Kargil, scheduled to be held tomorrow after over month long hectic campaigning by top leaders of all political parties, besides some Independent candidates.
An estimated 83,000 electorates are eligible to exercise their right to franchise for 26-seat LAHDC Kargil for which 99 candidates are in the fray and the administration has set up 258 polling stations to ensure smooth voting, which will take place from 8 am to 4 pm. Counting of the votes will be taken up on August 31 and all results are likely to be declared the same day.
In view of keen contest and involvement of all four major political parties in the elections, police administration has deployed para-military forces, Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs) and Jammu and Kashmir Police at all 258 polling stations, official sources told the Excelsior, addi-ng that Special Observers have also been designated for all 26 constituencies.
The LAHDC Kargil has 30 seats. While election is held for 26 seats, four Councilors are nominated by the Government with voting rights.
SSP Kargil Dr Vinod Kumar said for the first time, police personnel with body borne cameras have been deployed in all 258 polling stations to keep strict vigil on the miscreants and those indulging in any kind of unhealthy practices. “We are determined to ensure peaceful, free and fair polling for all 26 seats for which adequate number of para-military and police personnel have been deployed across the district. QRTs have also been stationed at sensitive places to meet with any eventuality,” he added.
The election will be held using ballot papers as per the legal provision of the LAHDC Kargil.
Sources said since number of polling stations were located in remote and hilly areas, the polling parties had to be deputed in advance and it will also take time to bring them back. In view of this, counting of votes will be held on August 31 and results will be declared by the same evening. Entire election process will be completed by September 5.
This will be the fourth election to the LAHDC Kargil, which was established in 2003 during PDP-Congress coalition Government headed by late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. The Council has five years term.
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, also made forays into the district and were contesting 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 are contesting the elections on their own, except for supporting Independents on some seats.
As per the alliance, BJP has fielded 20 candidates while Rizvi’s group has been contesting the election on six constituencies.
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 Leh and Kargil districts.
Political observers were of the view that there could be tough and keen contest among all four major political parties this time but possibility of some Independents emerging victorious, like the previous election held in 2013, is also not ruled out.
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 year tenure.
As elections to present Council were held on August 22, 2013, the verdict was hung with both National Conference and Congress, who shared power in the State at that time with National Conference leader Omar Abdullah as the Chief Minister, had won eight seats each and had support of three Independent Councilors each, taking their number to 11. Rest of the Independents were neutral.
However, with Congress insisting on formation of the Council, then Union Minister and National Conference president, Dr Farooq Abdullah had allowed the Congress to form the Council though some more Independent Councilors were ready to back the National Conference.
Congress leader Haji Asgar Ali Karbalaie was elected as Chairman-cum-CEC of the Council. 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.
Sources said apart from National Conference and Congress, now PDP and BJP, who were ruling the State before falling apart in June this year, have also developed pockets of influence in Kargil district though the two parties had drawn blank in 2013 Council election.
83,000 voters to decide fate of 99 candidates