Polling for 26 seats, Govt to nominate 4
JAMMU, July 25: The State Government today announced that election to 26 seats of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Kargil will be held on August 27 and counting will take place on August 31 while the BJP, which is trying to make inroads into Muslim dominated Kargil has decided to go for alliance with the Group of Independent MLA from Zanskar, Bakir Rizvi and three other major players including National Conference, Congress and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) were yet to take a call on whether to go it alone or forge an alliance.
The election schedule for LAHDC Kargil, which will be fourth election of the Council since its formation in 2003, was announced today by Ladakh Affairs Department of the State Government.
As per the schedule, the nominations for 26 seats will open on August 1 and the candidates can file nomination papers till August 8. Scrutiny of the nominations will take place on August 9 while candidates can withdraw their nomination papers till August 11. Polling will be held from 8 am to 4 pm on August 27 and counting will take place on August 31. Entire election process for the Council will be completed by September 5. The Model Code of Conduct has been enforced in the entire Kargil district.
The LAHDC Kargil has 30 seats but the election is held for 26 seats. Four Councilors are nominated by the State Government and they too have the voting rights in all matters of the Council including confidence or no confidence motion.
“It will be a one day voting for all 26 seats,” official sources told the Excelsior.
This is fourth election of the LAHDC Kargil, which has five years term. First three elections were held in 2003, 2008 and 2013.
BJP State president Ravinder Raina told the Excelsior that BJP is taking the LAHDC Kargil elections very seriously and it would go for an alliance with the Group of Bakir Rizvi, an Independent MLA from Zanskar, one of the two Assembly segments of Kargil district, who had affiliated himself with the BJP in March-April 2016 Legislative Council elections by voting for the BJP candidate. Other Assembly seat in Kargil is held by Congress leader Asgar Ali Karbalaie, former Chairman of the LAHDC Kargil.
Bakir Rizvi was, however, not available for the comments.
Raina said Union Minister and prominent Shia leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and entire State unit of the BJP including all legislators will campaign for the party candidates in the Kargil elections. Kargil has large population of Shia Muslims. Raina claimed that the BJP would go all out to gain majority in the LAHDC Kargil elections, like the LAHDC Leh, where the party has two-third majority.
Raina said he will himself tour Kargil for full one week from August 1 to 8 to finalize the alliance and campaign for the party candidate.
Congress MLA from Kargil, Asgar Ali Karbalaie, who was Chairman of the outgoing Council before being elected as the MLA, told the Excelsior that presently the party was not considering any option to go for an alliance with any political party but if the final decision on whether to have pre-poll alliance or go it alone will be taken by the party high command.
LAHDC Kargil Chairman Kacho Ahmad Ali Khan, who was an Independent Councilor but had affiliated himself with the PDP and became the Chairman with Congress support, didn’t rule out some kind of “internal tie-up” in the elections but maintained that at this stage he was still an Independent Councilor.
National Conference, which is a strong force in Kargil notwithstanding that they lost both Assembly seats in 2014 elections, would shortly take a call on the LAHDC elections. Going by the support base, the party could go it alone in the elections but a final decision will be taken by the party high command shortly.
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 undecided.
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. 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. 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 last month, have also developed pockets of influence in Kargil district though the two parties had drawn blank in 2013 election.
The district administration of Kargil was engaged in making all requisite preparations for the Council elections.
It may be mentioned here that like Panchayats, there is a provision of using ballot papers and boxes for the elections of LAHDC instead of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).