Press Trust of india

LAHDC-Leh to go to polls today

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Leh: The stage is set for the sixth Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council-Leh polls on Thursday as all arrangements have been put in place for the first democratic exercise post granting of Union territory status to the region last year.

An electorate of 89,776, including 45,025 women, will exercise their franchise in 294 polling stations spread over 26 constituencies across Leh district to seal the fate of 94 candidates, including 26 each from the BJP and the Congress.

“All arrangements are in place and we are hopeful of a peaceful election tomorrow (Thursday). The arrangements include necessary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Deputy District Election Officer (DEO) Abdul Zargar said.

He said the polling parties along with security personnel have reached the designated polling stations for the smooth conduct of the voting which will take place from 8 am to 4 pm.

Besides the Congress and BJP, the Aam Admi Party (AAP) is also trying its luck for the first time by fielding 19 candidates, while rest of the 23 contestants are independents. The regional parties, including the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have chosen to stay away from the election.

The counting of votes will take place on October 26 and the poll process is expected to be completed by October 30.

The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh has a total of 30 seats and four councilors are nominated by the government.

Since the formation of the hill council in 1995, the Congress had swept the polls thrice, while the Ladakh Union Territorial Front had won the elections in 2005. The BJP wrested control of the council from the Congress for the first time in the last elections by winning 18 out of 26 seats.

Kargil district of Ladakh has a separate hill council which was elected in 2018 for a five-year term.

Meanwhile, authorities have imposed CrPC section 144 and warned of strict action if anyone found violating the prohibitory orders.

“There shall be a complete ban on any kind of gathering or crowd comprising more than five persons within 200 meters of any polling stations in the entire Leh district,” Additional District Magistrate Sonam Chosjor said in an order.

The order said it was mandatory to conduct the election in a free and fair manner and to maintain public peace, order, and tranquility as per provisions of law and model code of conduct as applicable with effect from September 18.

All restaurants, bars, wine shops, eateries, tea shops, and all other food outlets situated in urban areas of municipal jurisdiction within 100 meters of the polling station, and in rural areas of village panchayat jurisdiction within 200 meters of the polling station, would remain closed from 6 am to 7 pm on the poll day, it added.

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