Two VVIP visits on cards in Ladakh-one before MCC, another during campaign

Infra projects, Councils’ empowerment, Admn units likely
Agreement on PSC, some parts of 6th Schedule expected anytime
Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Mar 1: Two VVIP visits are on the cards in the Union Territory of Ladakh-one before the imposition of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by the Election Commission of India (ECI) for Lok Sabha elections and another during the poll campaign amidst reports that some major announcements for the UT are on cards while inauguration and foundation stone laying ceremony of projects is also expected.
Official sources told the Excelsior that either of the two Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah is expected to visit Leh to address a mammoth rally in support of the party as this will be first Lok Sabha election with Ladakh having been granted Union Territory, a long pending demand of the people.
Ladakh was a division of Jammu and Kashmir before it was granted UT status on August 5, 2019 when erstwhile State of J&K was divided into two UTs following abrogation of special status.
The MCC is expected to be imposed before March 15 and one of the VVIP visits will take place before that, the sources said, adding that the VVIP besides addressing a rally will inaugurate and lay foundation stone of many infrastructure development projects which would give boost to development of the Union Territory as well as strengthen the border road network.
“There is also a proposal for announcement of some administrative units including two districts of Zanskar and Nubra besides further empowerment of Autonomous Hill Development Councils for Leh and Kargil,” the sources said.
Another VVIP visit, as per the sources will take place during election campaign for Lok Sabha seat which the BJP won for two consecutive terms in 2014 and 2019. The party is aiming the seat for third consecutive term.
Sources said the Union Home Ministry which is holding talks with Leh Apex Body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) by forming a Sub Committee could also make certain announcements pertaining to the Public Services Commission (PSC) and implementation of some parts of Sixth Schedule which could benefit the Union Territory of Ladakh.
The Sub Committee is scheduled to meet in New Delhi on March 4, which will be third meeting of the Union Home Ministry this year with LAB and KDA which have been spearheading agitation on their four-point agenda including Statehood, Sixth Schedule status, dedicated PSC and two Parliamentary seats for Ladakh. However, in the last few meetings, the twin bodies have dropped the demand for two Parliamentary seats as against present one realizing that this can’t be done before 2026 due to freeze on delimitation of constituencies
Official sources said the MHA is likely to concede demand of the Ladakh bodies on PSC but whether it would be dedicated PSC, part of Jammu and Kashmir like High Court or a wing within the Union Public Services Commission will be decided in consultations with legal experts and representatives of LAB and KDA.
“Some parts of Sixth Schedule status which are beneficial for the people of Ladakh are also likely to be implemented,” they said, adding that empowerment of the two Autonomous Hill Development Councils and creation of new administrative units are high on agenda though these are not the demands voiced by LAB and KDA.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is expected to make development of infrastructure during nearly four and half years of Ladakh being made a Union Territory as one of the main poll planks in the Lok Sabha elections with a view to retain the seat for third consecutive term.
On the other hand, it is not certain so far which party gets Ladakh seat in INDIA block as per their seat-sharing agreement. As People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has no stakes in Ladakh, the seat could go to either Congress or National Conference. However, if there is no agreement, both parties can field their candidates.