In Ladakh's cold dessert, polls have Cong, BJP and Independent’s fate in hot cauldron

  • Peerzada Ashiq, None, Srinagar
  • Updated: May 06, 2014 19:17 IST

Jammu and Kashmir’s electorate-wise smallest parliament seat, Ladakh, with just 1.6 lakh voters will determine the fate of three front runners --- BJP, National Conference and an independent candidate – in tomorrow’s polls.

So far, the fight is evenly poised. The cold desert is divided between Muslim-majority Kargil-Zanskar with 80,589 and Buddhist-dominated Leh-Nobra with 79,042 voters.

Both the National Conference-Congress united candidate Tsering Samphel and BJP Thupstan Chhewang are from Leh. This move of these parties has annoyed the leaders of Kargil.

Former MLA Ghulam Raza, who was Congress district president from Kargil, resigned recently and filed nomination as an Independent candidate. Raza, who has the backing of powerful Kargil Autonomous Hill Development Council chairman Asgar Ali Karbalai, will split the vote share of Congress-NC’s candidate.

However, the seminaries of the Islamia School Kargil (backing the NC) and Imam Khomeni Memorial Trust (backing the Congress) will play pivotal role in making Samphel sail through.

Though three Muslim independent candidates have already withdrawn their candidature to stop fragmentation of Muslim votes in Kargil, still Sayed Mohammad Kazim, another independent candidate, is in the fray to the disadvantage of Raza as well as Samphel.

Sitting member parliament Hassan Khan, who was backed by the NC in 2009 and contested as an independent candidate, has not contested this time.

In Leh, the fight remains directly between the BJP and the Congress with the influential Ladakh Buddhist Association a key holder. If the BJP bags good vote share and NC-Congress vote bank reduces in Kargil, the saffron brigade stands a chance of winning the seat. However, if the votes are divided equally between the Congress and BJP in Leh, Kargil will help the coalition candidate to sail through easily.

Results of tomorrow’s polls depend a lot on a number of permutations and combinations, including how religion-based politics plays out in the cold dessert, feeling the heat of the Lok Sabha polls.

If one goes by the assembly polling data, the Cong-Nc candidate has an edge. Ladakh has four assembly segments of Leh, Kargil, Nobra and Zanskar. While two are represented by the National Conference leaders, one each by a Congress and an independent candidate.

A quick look

As many as 252 polling personnel have been deployed. Of which six are hyper-sensitive, eight sensitive and 49 normal polling stations in 47- Nubra Assembly constituency and in 48- Leh assembly constituencies.

844 polling staff stands deployed at 16 hyper sensitive, 53 Sensitive and 142 normal polling stations.

In Ladakh, with four parliamentary segements—Leh, Kargil, Zanskar and Nubra – has 1,59,631 voters

Leh district has 39,812 male and 39,230 female voters, while Kargil district has 41,182 male and 39,407 female voters.

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