Battle lines drawn in Ladakh; DM, AP CM to join campaign tomorrow

Race between 2 Kargilites for show of strength
Senior Cong, NC, PDP leaders give campaign a miss

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, May 2: The BJP campaign for Ladakh seat is to get major boost with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, a prominent Buddhist leader, joining the campaign for party candidate, Jamyang Tsering Namgayal on May 4, the last date for campaigning while battle lines were also drawn in Kargil district where Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust (IKMT) backed candidate, Haji Asgar Ali Karbalaie displaying his strength by holding massive rally at Hussaini Park today and Islamiya School Kargil (ISK), National Conference and PDP supported nominee, Sajjad Hussain Kargili planning a similar show of strength on Saturday.

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While top National Conference and PDP leaders including Dr Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, all former Chief Ministers have given a miss to the election campaign though their parties have extended support to Sajjad Kargili, local leadership of the two parties including Qamar Ali Akhoon, former Minister Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Kargil, Chairman, Feroz Khan, Haji Hanifa Jan, all NC, Inayat Ali, Chairman Legislative Council and Kacho Feroz Khan, both PDP besides other leaders of the two parties have been extensively campaigning for Sajjad.
BJP sources told the Excelsior that in view of hectic schedule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP has deputed Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu to massive rally planned by the BJP on last day of election campaigning on May 4 at Polo Ground, Leh at 11 am.
BJP leaders were confident that since Ladakh has many defence related issues like construction of roads, mobile connectivity, opening of Kailash-Mansarover and other routes, the Defence Minister will be able to strike chord with the voters. Moreover, Pema Khandu would reach out to the people of Buddhist dominated Leh as he is a prominent Buddhist leader.
Earlier also, Union Minister of State for Home and Buddhist leader, Kiren Rijiju has twice visited Leh and Zanskar and campaigned for the BJP candidate for three days. On the other, Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs, Mukhtas Abass Naqvi had yesterday addressed two rallies in Shia dominated Kargil district.
Besides Union Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Dr Jitendra Singh and BJP State president, Ravinder Raina have addressed series of meetings for the BJP candidate.
Like NC and PDP, no senior Congress leader has visited Ladakh so far, leaving party candidate, Rigzin Spalbar to campaign on his own with the help of Ladakh based party leadership. During last two days of campaigning on May 3 and 4, no prominent Congress leader is scheduled to visit Ladakh so far. However, Spalbar has been addressing series of public meetings on his own in several areas of the Parliamentary seat and highlighting failure of the BJP at both national and State level especially in Ladakh to seek votes for himself.
In Kargil district, Independent candidate and Congress rebel, Haji Asgar Ali Karbalaie, former MLA from Kargil Assembly segment, today held massive show of strength at Hussaini Park by addressing a huge rally in support of his candidature in which he sought votes on the issues of development.
Karbalaie’s candidature is backed by powerful Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust, which has large footing in Kargil district.
Sajjad Hussain Kargili, another Independent candidate, supported by strong mass based religious organization—Islamiya School Kargil, National Conference and PDP, has planned similar show of strength at the same Hussaini Park in Kargil on May 4.
Political Observers said they keenly watched the gathering at Karbalaie’s election meeting and were now eagerly waiting to see Sajjad’s show of strength to firm up their opinion on the support the two Independent candidates from Kargil district enjoyed.
The Observers were of the view that the vote bank of Karbalaie and Sajjad was mostly confined to Kargil district while that of BJP candidate, Jamyang Tsering Namgayal, who is sitting Chairman-cum-CEC of LAHDC Leh and Congress nominee, Rigzin Spalbar was generally confined to Leh district. There are only four candidates in the fray in Ladakh district, the minimum among all six Lok Sabha seats of the State.
Ladakh will go to polls in fifth phase on May 6 while campaigning will end in the evening of May 4.
In 2014, BJP candidate Thupstan Chhewang had won the seat by just 36 votes defeating IKMT backed Independent candidate and Congress rebel Ghulam Raza. However, Chhewang had last year resigned from the BJP as well as Lok Sabha membership owing to differences with the party leadership. He has also retired from active politics.


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