Ladakh braces up for polling tomorrow with just 3 candidates, 1.84 lakh voters

Men and material being airlifted to a far-off Polling Station in Kargil. —Excelsior/Basharat Ladakhi
Men and material being airlifted to a far-off Polling Station in Kargil. —Excelsior/Basharat Ladakhi

Barring Rijiju, national leaders stay away from campaign

*Hanle second highest Polling Station in world
Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, May 18: Ladakh Parliamentary Constituency with just 1.84 lakh electorates has geared up for polling in fifth phase of elections on May 20 with lacklustre campaign ending this evening.

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Polling parties in far off Polling Stations have been dispatched while in plain areas, the teams will leave tomorrow. Polling staff and EVMs were airlifted to five Polling Stations including three in Kargil district and two in Leh district.
There are only three candidates in the fray including Tashi Gyalson, Chairman-cum-CEC Leh Hill Development Council (BJP), Tsering Namgyal, Leader of Opposition in the Council (Congress) and Mohammad Haneefa Jan (Independent), backed by National Conference and Congress units of district Kargil.
Barring Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, no senior BJP leader visited Ladakh for campaigning. Not even a single national Congress leader came for canvassing in the Union Territory.
National Conference leaders Dr Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah too didn’t visit Ladakh as they were caught in dilemma following revolt by entire NC unit of Kargil district against party’s decision to support Congress candidate.
As per INDIA bloc agreement, Ladakh seat had been allotted to Congress. Independent Candidate Haneefa Jan was district president of the National Conference for Kargil and had also served as Chairman-cum-CEC of Kargil Hill Council.
The campaign was generally localized with local leaders of Congress (Leh district) campaigning for Namgyal and BJP leaders from across Ladakh for Gyalson. NC and Congress units of Kargil canvassed for Haneefa Jan.
Hanle (Anle) Phu, a Polling Station in Leh district is located at the height of 15,000 feet from the sea level and is reportedly the world’s second highest Polling Station. Warshi, a Polling Station in Nubra area of Leh district is the last village and just 20 kilometres short of Siachen Glacier base camp. It has been set up for only five electorates, all members of one family.
Air sorties have already been conducted for five Polling Stations which were inaccessible by road including two in Leh and three in Kargil.
Polling staff, EVMs and security personnel were airlifted by the IAF at Jinchan and Dipling Polling Stations in Leh; Phema, Ralakun and Shadey in Kargil.
Leh has a total of 298 Polling Stations and Kargil 279.
Model and Pink Polling Stations have been set up in both the districts.
In Ladakh Parliamentary constituency, there are a total of about 1.84 lakh electorates including 95926 in Kargil district and 88877 in Leh district.
Ladakh Parliamentary constituency has 1127 People with Disabilities (PwDs) and 1570 elderly electorates.
Leh is Buddhist dominated district while Kargil has majority population of Shia Muslims.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Leh Santosh Sukhadeve today imposed restrictions under Section 144 CrPC in Leh district.
“No person shall convene, hold, attend, join or address any public meeting or procession in connection with election. No political functionary/party worker, who is not a voter of Ladakh seat, shall remain present in the district after 6 PM of 18th May,” the order read.
He said one vehicle for candidate, one vehicle for election agent and one vehicle for the agent/party worker shall be allowed to ply on the polling day and no other vehicle would be allowed to be used by any leader.
Meanwhile, out of three candidates in total; two are from Leh district while Kargil has only one candidate. Observers believed that split of votes in Leh will give advantage to lone candidate from Kargil.
Tashi Gyalson (BJP) and Tsering Namgayal (Congress) are the two candidates from Leh while Mohammad Haneefa Jan, who is fighting the election as an Independent candidate with the backing of National Conference and Congress units of Kargil, is lone contestant from the Kargil district.
The BJP won Ladakh Lok Sabha seat in 2014 and 2019 when there were two candidates from Kargil district.
In 2014, BJP candidate Thupstan Chhewang won the seat in four-cornered contest with Tsering Samphel in fray from Congress and Ghulam Raza and Syed Mohammad Kazim, both Independents from Kargil.
In 2019 also, BJP candidate Jamyang Tsering Namgayal emerged victorious in fight among four candidates, three others being Rigzin Spalbar (Congress), Sajjad Kargili and Haji Asgar Ali Karbalai, both Independents from Kargil.