Srinagar: Amid Indo- China tension, Leh recorded a voter turnout of 65.7 percent in Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) elections on Thursday.
This is the first election after the Centre granted Union Territory status to Ladakh.
Braving cold climate, a large number of voters thronged the polling booths to exercise their franchise.
The voting began at 8 am and ended at 4 pm. The counting will begin on October 26 and the results will be declared on the same day.
A total number of 94 candidates are contesting the elections. BJP and Congress fielded candidates on all 26 constituencies, while AAP is contesting 19 seats. Twenty-three independents are also in the fray.
Leh Election officer said a total of 65.7 percent voter turnout was recorded in all 26 constituencies.
Out of 89789 registered electorates, 54257 voters including 28263 females exercised their right to franchise.
In addition, a total of 2538 cast their vote via postal ballot and 1635 via EDC vote.
Sku Markha constituency recorded the highest voter turnout of 83.59 percent.
Lower Leh constituency recorded the lowest voter turnout of 48.8 percent.
In Turtuk, Hundar, Diskit, Tegar, and Panamik, a voter turnout of 77.91, 73.2, 75.16, 72.66, and 73.63 percent were recorded.
Similarly, Tangtse, Chusul, Nyoma, Kungyam, Korzok, Sakti, Igoo and Martselang constituencies recorded 64.21, 74.70, 72.8, 67, 66.63, 67.88, 70.89 and 64.34 % turnout respectively.
Thiksay, Chuchot, Upper Leh, Phyan, Basho, Saspol and Temisgam recorded a voter turnout of 71.56, 68.17, 64.42, 52.27, 70.70, 65.41 and 61.71% respectively.
A voter percentage of 72.92, 63.25, 68.72, and 76.45 were recorded in Khalste, Skurbuchan, Lamayuru and Lingshet respectively.
Officials said fewer people turned out to vote initially due to the cold. They said the number swelled after 10 pm when temperature saw an improvement.
Authorities had made elaborate security arrangements to ensure free and fair elections. Given the tension on borders with China, security deployment was enhanced in the entire district.
Officials said the authorities have already put in arrangement to ensure proper adherence to Covid-19 Standard Operation Procedures (SOP).
LAHDC polls witnessed a triangular contest between the ruling BJP, Congress, and Aam Admi Party (AAP).
NC and PDP have stayed away from the polls. Both parties have not cited any reason for the boycott.
Political parties had earlier called for an election boycott to protest against the Centre for not extending sixth schedule of the Indian constitution to Ladakh.
Later the Centre held a meeting with local leaders and assured them of protecting their demography, job, and land rights.
BJP used the abrogation of article 370 and UT status to Ladakh as a poll plank to woo the voters. Congress on the other hand raised the issues of development and India-China face-off during campaigning.
There are different fault lines within the two districts of Ladakh. Buddhist dominated Leh is demanding an extension of the sixth schedule, but the Muslim majority Kargil is demanding restoration of article 370 and statehood.