Press Trust of india

Campaigning ends for LAHDC elections in Kargil; voting on October 04

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Kargil: Campaigning ended on Monday for the October 04 elections to the fifth Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC)-Kargil with the stage set for a triangular contest in most of the 26 seats.

The counting of votes is scheduled for October 08 and the new council will be in place before October 11. The existing council headed by National Conference’s Feroz Ahmad Khan completed its five-year term on October 01.

A total of 95,388 voters including 46,762 women are eligible to exercise their franchise from 8 am to 4 pm on Wednesday to decide the electoral fate of 85 candidates in 26 seats of the 30-member Hill Council, according to election officials.

Four councillors with voting rights are being nominated by the administration.

The National Conference and Congress have announced a pre-poll alliance but have put up 17 and 22 candidates, respectively. Both parties said the arrangement has been restricted to areas where there is a tough contest with the BJP.

BJP, which won one seat in the last election and later took its tally to three with the joining of two PDP councillors, has fielded 17 candidates this time.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is trying its luck from four seats while 25 independents are also in the fray, the officials said.

Electronic voting machines (EVMs) are being used for the first time for the council elections.

According to election officials, out of 278 polling stations being set up across the district, 114 are hypersensitive and 99 sensitive. Additional companies of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) have already been deployed and are performing their duties to ensure peaceful polling.

In an official order issued on Sunday, election authority and Deputy Commissioner Shrikant Balasaheb Suse directed a total prohibition on holding public meetings and processions during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the conclusion of the poll.

Suse also banned exit polls in the district till the conclusion of the poll and warned of action as per law against anyone contravening the directions.

The elections to LAHDC-Kargil was rescheduled from September 10 to October 4 on the directions of the Supreme Court which took serious note of the UT administration denying the “plough” symbol to National Conference candidates.

Holding that the National Conference is entitled to its symbol, the Supreme Court dismissed the Ladakh administration’s plea on the issue and also imposed a cost of Rs one lakh on it.

Though the extended campaigning in the district remained a low-key affair, National Conference vice-president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah addressed two election rallies at Drass and Kargil.

“We (the NC and the Congress) are fighting together to send a strong message to the people in the country that what happened on August 5, 2019, was undemocratic and based on injustice.

“With people’s support, we are going to win the polls and they (BJP) are panicking,” Omar had said.

Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, during his nine-day trip to Ladakh in August, also addressed a public meeting in Kargil. The party’s campaigning was mostly done by local leaders of the party from Ladakh.

Union Minister Meenakshi Lekhi campaigned for the BJP candidates and called upon the people of Kargil to vote the BJP to power for the all-round development of the district.

BJP Lok Sabha MP from Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgyal also widely campaigned for the party candidates, seeking votes on the focused development of the region by the central government.

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