KARGIL: Around 77.61 per cent voting was recorded on Wednesday in the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council elections in Kargil, the first key poll to be conducted in Kargil district of Ladakh as Union Territory (UT) after Article 370 was scrapped in August 2019.
The votes will be counted on Sunday. As many as 85 candidates are fighting for 26 seats. During the polling most of the voters talked about identity issues post scrapping of 370 and absence of democratic representation under Union Territory administration.
“We are angry because Modi has separated us from Kashmir in 2019,” said Zehra Bano. Seventy-year-old Zehra was part of large number of women in Kargil who came out to vote.
Another voter said that they want to be reunited with Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory experiment has failed to deliver.
“We want statehood back. We didn’t get anything under UT and our children are unemployed,” he said.
The contest is between the BJP and the National Conference-Congress combine. The vote is being looked at as a referendum – if the people have accepted the Centre’s decision of August 5, 2019.
At a poll rally, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had urged voters to send a “clear message to reject or accept” the decision made by the NDA government on August 5, 2019.
Kargil has long been a National Conference stronghold. Two powerful religious institutions – the Jamiat Ulema Kargil, known as the Islamia School, traditionally backing the National Conference, and the Imam Khumaini Memorial Trust backing the Congress – are driving the politics in Kargil.
Earlier, the Ladakh administration had denied the “plough” symbol to National Conference candidates which led to a legal battle, with the Supreme Court setting aside the Ladakh hill council polls, earlier scheduled for September 10.
Over the last three years, political parties, social and religious groups in Ladakh have forged an alliance opposing Ladakh’s UT status and demanding full statehood and constitutional protection under the 6th schedule. The rare political alliance between Buddhist and Muslim groups in Leh and Kargil districts is posing a major challenge to BJPs electoral prospects in Ladakh.(Ndtv)