Srinagar: National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have decided to stay away from Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) even as BJP and Congress have fielded candidates on all the 26 seats.

Around 157 candidates have filed the nominations. Besides BJP and Congress, AAP, and 44 other independent candidates have filed the nominations. Today was the last date for nominations

Deputy District Election Officer Leh, Abdul Gaffar Zargar told The Kashmir Monitor that 43 candidates from each BJP and Congress have filed nomination papers to contest in the elections.

AAP has fielded 24 candidates, while 44 independents are also in the fray.

He said the election office did not receive any nomination papers from National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party. The LAHDC polls will be held on October 16.

Zargar said the scrutiny of the nomination papers will be held on October 7.

It was after a month-long logjam that the political parties decided to take part in the elections. 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 last 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. On September 27, the political parties decided to withdraw their boycott call after assurances from the Centre.

With both regional parties staying away from polls, there will be a triangular contest between BJP, Congress, and AAP.

BJP is likely to use the abrogation of article 370 and 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 fault lines within the two districts of Ladakh.  Buddhist dominated Leh is demanding extension of the sixth schedule, but the Muslim majority Kargil is demanding restoration of article 370 and statehood.

BJP and Congress said they are confident of gaining the majority in the coming election and have already started the campaigning process in Ladakh.

Skalzang Dorjey, BJP General Secretary (political affairs), Leh, had told The Kashmir Monitor that the party is confident of sweeping the LAHDC polls. “It was BJP which made Ladakh a union territory. Plus, the party has many other developmental agendas for Ladakh,” he said.

Congress too exuded confidence to win the polls. “We will sweep the elections,” Congress leader Nawang Rigzin Jora had told The Kashmir Monitor.

On the other side, NC and PDP did not give any plausible reason to justify their boycott decision.

Senior PDP leader Ghulam Nabi Lone said the party has decided not to take part in the election. “We have decided not to contest the elections. There is no reason per se,” he said.

 NC said they have empowered the party’s local unit to make decisions regarding their participation in LAHDC elections.

“You can contact our local unit. We have empowered them to take a decision regarding the elections,” said NC’s spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar.

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Presently Senior reporter at The Kashmir Monitor with an experience of nine years in reporting business, crime, defense, politics and environment.Have also contributed to reputed media organizations including First Post, India Spend, Forbes India

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