After two weeks of tussle with its coalition partner in state, the Congress finally managed to get control of the Kargil Hill council on Monday, as its candidate, Haji Asgar Karblaie, was elected unopposed as the chief executive councillor (CEC).
Congress had won 10 seats, which was nine more than the last election held in 2008, while the National Conference in alliance with Islamia school had secured 18 seats in the last election. The same alliance won 11 seats this time. Five independents were also elected.
"I am happy that the NC didn't announce their candidate, as it must have realised that the mandate was not in their favour," Karbalie told HT.
The election holds importance as Ladakah Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Kargil, like one in Leh, acts as a mini government in this remote district and all development plans are conceived and approved by it with the state government having little say.
It is for this reason, why having control over it pays off politically, and is more important also because both Parliamentary as well as assembly elections are due next year.
With the numbers almost equally stacked, both parties had initially claimed the support of five-independents. However, with Congress going public about their support, NC fearing loss of control, had nominated four councillors, for which there was a provision.
Congress had opposed the move, but even then both parties had the support of 15 members each. Congress consistently maintained that the nomination was illegal and even if NC nominated their councillors, they cannot vote for the election to the CEC. But it feared that NC could use them at the last moment.
Buoyed over the turn of events, Congress can now claim that they are gradually becoming popular in state, and the victory coming just ahead of elections was another reason for them to cheer, as it had started preparing itself to snap ties with the NC, if NC wouldn't have acceded the Kargil council seat to the Congress.
Sensing the mood, NC president and union minister Farooq Abdullah had accepted defeat last week.
Congress, now, has control over the Hill councils in Kargil as well as in Leh, which has four assembly seats in total.