Campaigning ends for all 26 seats of 5th LAHDC Kargil elections

Election material being dispatched to polling stations in Kargil on Monday. — Excelsior/Basharat Ladakhi
Election material being dispatched to polling stations in Kargil on Monday. — Excelsior/Basharat Ladakhi

Lekhi, Rahul, Omar hold rallies

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Oct 2: Campaigning for all 26 constituencies of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Kargil in the Union Territory of Ladakh, which goes to polls on October 4, ended at 4 pm today. Counting will take place on October 8.
A rally each was addressed by prominent leaders of three major political parties in the fray in Kargil. While Congress leader and Lok Sabha member Rahul Gandhi addressed the rally at Kargil during his visit to Ladakh, Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Meenakshi Lekhi held the rally for the BJP. National Conference vice president and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah campaigned for the party candidates.
This will be the fifth election to the LAHDC Kargil where the stage is set for a triangular contest in most of the 26 seats with Congress fielding highest 22 candidates, National Conference and BJP 17 each and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) four while there are 25 Independents.
New Council will be in place before October 11. The existing Council headed by National Conference’s Feroz Ahmad Khan completed its five-year term on October 1.
A total of 95,388 voters including 46,762 women are eligible to exercise their franchise from 8 am to 4 pm on Wednesday to decide the electoral fate of 85 candidates in 26 seats of the 30-member Hill Council.
Four Councillors with voting rights are nominated by the administration after the elections.
The National Conference and Congress have announced a pre-poll Alliance but have put up 17 and 22 candidates, respectively. Both parties said the arrangement has been restricted to areas where there is a tough contest with the BJP.
BJP, which won one seat in the last election and later took its tally to three with the joining of two PDP Councillors, has fielded 17 candidates this time. Four nominated candidates last time also belonged to the BJP.
Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are being used for the first time for the Council elections.
According to election officials, out of 278 Polling Stations set up across the district, 114 are hypersensitive and 99 sensitive. Additional companies of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) have already been deployed and are performing their duties to ensure peaceful polling.
In an official order issued on Sunday, Election Authority and Deputy Commissioner Shrikant Balasaheb Suse directed a total prohibition on holding public meetings and processions during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the conclusion of the poll.
Suse also banned exit polls in the district till the conclusion of the poll and warned of action as per law against anyone contravening the directions.
The elections to LAHDC-Kargil was rescheduled from September 10 to October 4 on the directions of the Supreme Court which took serious note of the UT administration denying the “plough” symbol to National Conference candidates.
Holding that the National Conference is entitled to its symbol, the Supreme Court dismissed the Ladakh administration’s plea on the issue and also imposed a cost of Rs 1 lakh on it.
Though senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, during his nine-day trip to Ladakh in August, also addressed a public meeting in Kargil, the party’s campaigning was mostly done by local leaders of the party from Ladakh. NC leader Omar Abdullah stayed in Kargil for three days holding rallies for the party candidates.
Union Minister Meenakshi Lekhi campaigned for the BJP candidates and called upon the people of Kargil to vote the BJP to power for the all-round development of the district.
BJP Lok Sabha MP from Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgyal also widely campaigned for the party candidates, seeking votes on the focused development of the region by the Central Government.