In a region mired in conflict, it takes all the more courage, and perseverance to be the voice of the voiceless, and to separate facts from propaganda. Help The Kashmir Monitor sustain so that we continue to be editorially independent. Remember, your contributions, however small they may be, matter to us.

Except BJP, all parties yet to announce candidates for Ladakh

Srinagar, Apr 3: Uncertainty continues over the announcement of candidates as three main political parties are faced with the challenge of picking the ‘right’ candidates for the Ladakh Lok Sabha constituency.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced 31-year-old Jamyang Tsering Namgyal as its candidate for Ladakh Lok Sabha constituency.

 

The young leader, who is serving as the current Chief Executive Councillor (CEC) of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), remained private secretary to the former BJP MP and renowned Buddhist spiritual leader, Thupstan Chhewang.

However, three political parties – National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, and Congress – are yet to announce their candidates or to support a “secular” candidate as done on two seats of Jammu region.

Chief Spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party, Rafi Ahmad Mir said that his party is likely to announce the candidate.

“We are in touch with civil society groups and religious groups. May be we announce the candidate in few days,” Mir said.

Senior Congress leader G N Monga said that state party unit has forwarded names of two leaders, one each from Leh and Kargil to the high command.

“The party command may announce the candidate in next two days,” Monga said.

The National Conference may not announce its own candidate but have asked two powerful religio-political organizations to choose a candidate.

“We are in talks with the Islamia School and Imam Khomeini Trust. If they choose any candidate then we may even support them,” a National Conference leader said.

The Khomeini Trust, which helped Congress win the Kargil constituency in the 2014 assembly elections, backed the party unofficially during polls to the Council last year. The Islamia School has traditionally backed the National Conference. Ladakh goes to polls in the fifth phase on May 6.

The National Conference and Congress have entered into a partial pre-poll alliance in Jammu and Kashmir. The NC has left two seats for the Congress in Jammu while the latter has not fielded any candidates for the Srinagar seat.

On the other hand, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has surrendered two Jammu seats and decided to support the Congress candidates there.

Ladakh, one of the largest Lok Sabha constituencies in terms of area has witnessed a tradition of more or less alternatively electing Buddhists and Muslims as MPs for quite some time.

In 1989, an Independent candidate, Mohammad Hassan Commander, became the MP from Ladakh. In 1996, P Namgyal of the Congress represented the region in the Parliament.

Fresh elections were held after the government collapsed at the Centre in 1998, and NC leader Syed Hussain was elected. In 1999, Hassan Khan won as the NC’s candidate, and in 2004, Independent candidate Thupstan Chhewang was declared winner. In 2009, Hassan Khan returned to the Lok Sabha as an Independent but by 2014, Thupstan Chhewang had been elected on a BJP ticket.