Srinagar: Hours after the political stalemate ended, BJP and Congress decided to contest all 26 seats of Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), while PDP and National Conference remained indecisive about participating in the polls.
The logjam ended after a joint delegation of political parties met union home minister Amit Shah and union sports minister Kiran Rijiju in New Delhi. The leaders reportedly assured the delegation that their language, demography, ethnicity, and jobs will be secured.
For the last one month, Leh has been demanding an extension of the sixth schedule of the constitution. The sixth schedule guarantees land and job rights to the locals of the tribal areas. This schedule is already being implemented in many north-eastern states including Tripura, Meghalaya, Assam, and Mizoram.
To build pressure, none of the political leaders had filed nomination for LAHDC polls in protest. The last date for filing nomination papers was to end on Monday. Now the election commission has reportedly decided to extend the last date.
The LAHDC polls are scheduled to be held on October 16.
“There is no reason to boycott polls now. After meeting union ministers, the delegation is satisfied with the Centre’s concern towards Ladakh,” Skalzang Dorjey, Leh BJP General Secretary (political affairs) , told The Kashmir Monitor.
Dorje said the BJP is confident of sweeping polls considering “people’s support” for the party. “It was BJP which made Ladakh a union territory. Plus the party has many other developmental agendas for Ladakh,” he said.
BJP’s rival Congress too seemed convinced after receiving assurance by the Centre.
“It has been unanimously decided that all parties will take part in elections. We have not yet decided about our candidates but Congress will contest all seats,” Leh Congress president Nawang Rogzin Jora told The Kashmir Monitor.
Jora, a former cabinet minister of erstwhile J&K state, said Congress would campaign vigorously to secure a majority in the LAHDC polls.
“We will sweep elections. Let us decide about candidates. Later campaigning will begin,” he said.
PDP and NC, however, appear not to be in a mood to participate in the elections. NC recently suffered a major jolt when the entire unit joined BJP.
NC’s Qamar Ali Akhoon said the party high command is yet to deliberate over the LAHDC elections.
Party’s General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar said they will sit and decide over the future course of action.
“We haven’t decided anything about the LAHDC election as yet. Maybe we make up our mind after leaders meet,” he said.
PDP too is indecisive about its participation in LAHDC polls. “We have not discussed as yet,” General Secretary PDP Ghulam Nabi Hanjura told The Kashmir Monitor.
The LAHDC polls are likely to witness a neck-to-neck contest between BJP and Congress.
BJP is likely to use the abrogation of article 370 and granting UT status to Ladakh as a poll plank to woo the voters. Congress on the other hand is planning to raise the issues of development and India-China face-off during campaigning.
There are different faultlines within the two districts of Ladakh. Buddhist dominated Leh is demanding extension of the sixth schedule, but Muslim majority Kargil is demanding restoration of article 370 and statehood.