Major political development in Ladakh: All parties join hands to boycott LAHDC polls

People’s Movement leaders at a press conference in Leh on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Morup Stanzin
People’s Movement leaders at a press conference in Leh on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Morup Stanzin

Demand Sixth Schedule Status, powers for Councils; say no to Domicile Law

Seek time from LG, to visit Kargil for consensus

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Sept 22: In a significant political development, all political parties, social and religious organizations today set aside their political and ideological differences, came on a joint platform in Leh under the banner of People’s Movement and announced boycott of sixth election to Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh scheduled to be held on October 16 till Ladakh is granted Sixth Schedule status and BODO Council-like powers to the two Councils of Leh and Kargil. They also opposed Jammu and Kashmir like Domicile Law in Ladakh saying this wasn’t acceptable to the people.

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BJP and Congress-the two major players in Leh district as well as the LAHDC Leh—were part of the joint front which has sought a meeting with Lieutenant Governor Radha Krishna Mathur tomorrow and also proposed to go to Kargil shortly to take public representatives there into confidence.
LAHDC Kargil Chairman-cum-CEC Feroz Khan told the Excelsior that they have started internal discussions with all political parties, social and religious organizations following sudden development in Leh in favour of Sixth Schedule status and BODO-Council like powers to Autonomous Councils of Leh and Kargil.
“The joint delegation of Leh has also announced that it will visit Kargil. When they come, we will talk to them and take decision after consensus in Kargil,” Khan said.
The four-line resolution has been signed by 12 leaders of different political parties, social and religious organizations of Leh which was released to media by them in Leh this afternoon.
It read: “The apex body of People’s Movement for Sixth Schedule for Ladakh has unanimously resolved to boycott the ensuing Sixth LAHDC Leh election till such time the Constitutional safeguard under Sixth Schedule on the lines of BODO Territorial Council is not extended to UT Ladakh and its people”.
Signatories to the Resolution include Thupstan Chhewang, ex-Lok Sabha member, Skyabje Thiksey Khanpo Rinpochey, ex-Rajya Sabha member, Chhering Dorje Lakrook, former Minister, PT Kunzang, president Ladakh Buddhist Association, Nawang Samstan, district president BJP, Nawang Rigzin Jora, former Minister and president Territorial Congress, Ladakh, Ven Shatup Chamba, president All Ladakh Gonpa Association, Ashraf Ali Barcha, president Anjuman Immamia, Dr Abdul Qayum, president, Anjuman Moin-ul-Islam, Rev Dechen Chamgha, president, Christian Community, T Phuntsog, convenor, Aam Aadmi Party Leh and Jigmet Paljor, president LEAF, an apex body of students.
Sources said NC and PDP have no significant presence in Leh. Entire unit of the NC had recently merged into the BJP while PDP has negligible presence.
LAHDC Leh elections are scheduled to be held on October 16, the schedule for which was recently announced by the administration. The nomination process for the elections had started yesterday. On second day of the nominations today not even a single paper has been filed so far.
Thupstan Chhewang, who addressed the press conference along with all signatories in Leh this afternoon, later told the Excelsior on telephone that the decision to boycott the LAHDC Leh elections was taken after consultations with all stakeholders.
“The decision is outcome of well thought process,” he said, adding since Ladakh hasn’t been granted Assembly the people want the two Autonomous Hill Development Councils to function independently with all powers like BODO Councils and Sixth Schedule status.
Chhewang, who had won Lok Sabha elections from Ladakh in 2004 as an Independent candidate and 2014 as BJP nominee but quit the party later, said all parties, social and religious organizations have taken the decision unanimously not to contest the LAHDC Leh elections.
Apart from political parties and other organizations, the LEAF, which is an apex body of students, has also extended support to the demand for Sixth Schedule status and empowerment of the Autonomous Councils of Ladakh.
Further, Chhewang said, the Jammu and Kashmir like Domicile Law is not acceptable to the people of Ladakh and it shouldn’t be implemented.
“Sixth Schedule has certain Constitutional safeguards which are given exclusively for Scheduled Tribes area. Here 95 percent population is ST. They have tribal identity. The Councils have no powers. They should be brought under the Sixth Schedule,” he said.
To a question on the absence of Ladakh MP and BJP UT president Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, Chhewang said he is under quarantine after having tested positive for COVID-19.
He said the People’s Movement has sought time from the Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh Radha Krishna Mathur to brief him on the decision. He added that the Movement leaders will also visit Kargil shortly to take the people and all organizations there on board.
Chhewang expressed hope that the people of Leh would stay away from the polls and those planning to fight the elections will not file their nomination papers.
“We are confident that we will get full support from the entire population and our struggle will continue till our demands are met,” he said.
As per the notification issued by the Election Department of Ladakh, the date for filling of nomination for LAHDC Leh began on September 21, while the last date for nomination is September 28.
The scrutiny of the papers will be held on September 29 and the last date for the withdrawal of nominations is October 1. Elections, if necessary, will be held on October 16.
The counting will be held on October 22 and the election process will be completed on October 27, the day when the five-year term of present LAHDC Leh expires.
The polling will be held between 8 am to 4 pm on all 26 non-reserved and six reserved constituencies of LAHDC, the notification issued last week read.

Unity for third time
This is for the third time that all political parties, social and religious organizations have shun their differences and came on joint platform for their cause in Leh in last about three decades.
In 1989, all organizations had launched collective agitation demanding Union Territory status for Ladakh. Three persons were killed in the agitation. Leh then got Autonomous Hill Development Council, which was later also granted to Kargil.
In 2002 also, the Leh parties had floated Leh Union Territory Front (LUTF) and selected Nawang Rigzin Jora and Sonam Wangchuk as only two candidates for Leh and Nubra constituencies as the Front candidates for the Assembly constituencies.
Both were elected unanimously with none filing nomination papers against them.
However, it was the BJP Government at the Centre which last year granted UT status to Ladakh.