Ripples in BJP as party names Tashi Gyalson as candidate for Ladakh seat

Sitting MP disapproves decision, will evaluate situation

*Party UT chief says trying to settle things

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Apr 23: Amidst brewing resentment over denial of Sixth Schedule status and Statehood, the BJP high command today replaced sitting Lok Sabha member from Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgayal with Chairman-cum-CEC Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council Tashi Gyalson, an Advocate, a decision which further rattled the party with Namgayal saying his supporters have voiced disapproval of the decision.

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Soon after the party high command announced its decision to field Hill Council Chairman-cum-CEC-Tashi Gyalson from the seat, whose name figured in the Panel of three sent by the UT unit of the BJP, mixed reactions poured in. Gyalson has been credited with running the Council effectively after taking over as the Chairman-cum-CEC.
However, Namgayal who won the seat for the BJP in 2019, reacted defiantly saying he will soon announce his next course of action.
BJP UT chief Phunchok Stanzin, when approached by the Excelsior, said he has established contact with Namgayal to know the issues.
“We will try to pacify him. Hopefully, everything will be alright,’’ Stanzin said.
The BJP for the first time won Ladakh Parliamentary seat in 2014 with Thupstan Chhewang, the party nominee emerging victorious. In 2019, Jamyang Tsering Namgayal, who was also the Chairman-cum-CEC of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh, retained the seat for the BJP.
Soon after his name was cleared by the BJP for Ladakh seat, Tashi Gyalson told the Excelsior that whatever has to be given to Ladakh will be given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and people of the UT have full faith and trust in him.
On Namgayal’s reaction, Gyalson said he just can’t trust that he has disapproved the party decision.
“The party has different responsibilities for different leaders. May be the party has something different for him. I hope Namgayal will honour the party decision,’’ Gyalson said.
On the issue of Sixth Schedule status and Statehood to Ladakh, the BJP candidate said dialogue is the only solution to all issues. The process of dialogue shouldn’t be derailed, he said, adding every issue involves pros and cons which have to be looked into.
Sitting MP Namgayal said his supporters across the Union Territory are voicing disapproval over the decision.
“Today, the BJP announced a new candidate for the Ladakh Parliamentary constituency, replacing the sitting MP without providing transparent and compelling justification,” his statement said.
Namgayal said he has communicated his “disagreement” to the party leadership through proper channels regarding this “injustice” to a dedicated ‘karyakarta’. Hundreds of BJP activists and his supporters from across Ladakh have also voiced their disapproval of this decision, he added.
“We will carefully evaluate the situation and determine our next course of action, keeping the well-being of the people of Ladakh at the forefront. I extend heartfelt gratitude to all supporters for their steadfast backing,” he said.
Namgayal had hit the headlines in 2019 with his viral speech in Lok Sabha to defend the Narendra Modi Government’s decision to repeal Article 370 and make Ladakh a separate Union Territory.
The BJP’s decision to drop Namgayal comes amid resentment towards the ruling party among a section of Buddhists in Leh.
The local sources said Gyalson, who is also a lawyer, is in a better position to maintain the BJP’s hold over the seat, which also includes Muslim-majority Kargil.
Ladakh Parliamentary seat will go to polls in fifth phase on May 20.
The BJP Government at the Centre had fulfilled long pending demand of the majority people of Ladakh for grant of Union Territory status on August 5, 2019 when Article 370 was scrapped and erstwhile State was bifurcated into two UTs of J&K and Ladakh. Ladakh was earlier a region and was later made third division besides Jammu and Kashmir before being made a UT.
However, after some time, the Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance started agitation demanding Sixth Schedule Status and Statehood for Ladakh besides some other demands for protection of land, culture, identity etc of the locals.
However, the BJP Government at the Centre has ruled out Sixth Schedule status as well as Statehood but stressed for continued dialogue with LAB and KDA. However, the two bodies of Ladakh said there was no fun of talks when their two major demands have been rejected.
There were reports that LAB and KDA could also field a joint candidate for Ladakh Parliamentary constituency but so far there has been no formal confirmation or announcement by any of the two bodies.
As per agreement among INDIA bloc constituents, the National Conference has left Ladakh Lok Sabha seat for the Congress. The PDP with no major stakes in the UT is also expected not to field its candidate though it hasn’t announced its decision so far.