Srinagar: Campaigning for all 26 constituencies in the 5th general Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Kargil concluded in the Union Territory of Ladakh on Monday. Top leaders from the BJP, NC, and Congress made last-minute appeals to voters.
The LAHDC elections are scheduled for October 4, with the counting of votes set to take place on October 8. These elections hold significant political importance as they mark the first time elections are being held in Kargil since the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019.
The new council is expected to be in place by October 11, succeeding the existing council led by Feroz Khan. A total of 95,388 eligible voters, including 46,762 women, will cast their votes from 8 am to 4 pm on Wednesday, deciding the fate of 85 candidates contesting in 26 out of 30 seats on the hill council. Additionally, four councillors with voting rights will be nominated by the administration.
The contest primarily features the NC-Congress alliance against the BJP, with the AAP also participating in its first election in Kargil, and 25 independent candidates in the fray.
Leaders from the NC, Congress, and BJP actively campaigned in the region to garner support. Union Minister of State for Culture and External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi campaigned for BJP candidates in Kargil and was involved in filing nomination papers. BJP’s National General Secretary Tarun Chug also visited Kargil for campaigning. Ashok Koul, the general secretary (org) of J&K and Ladakh, and Ladakh MP Tsering Namgyal campaigned for their party candidates. Top BJP leaders from Jammu and Kashmir were also sent to Kargil for campaigning.
From the Indian National Congress (INC), Rahul Gandhi was the sole national leader to visit the region. During his visit, he addressed public gatherings and conducted youth interaction programs, pledging to represent the region in parliamentary sessions.
Omar Abdullah, the former Chief Minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and Vice President of the National Conference (NC), campaigned for his party and visited Drass after addressing a gathering in Kargil. He was accompanied by Nasir Aslam Wani during his visit to address a public gathering at Choo Stadium.
In recent weeks, parties and their candidates organized campaigns, including road shows, door-to-door outreach, and public programs, to persuade voters to support them. The NC-Congress alliance is supported by the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), a group of senior political leaders in the region advocating for the safeguarding of Ladakh through a 4-point agenda.