Failure of the Bharatiya Janata Party to implement its promise of granting union territory status to Ladakh and ministerial berth at the Centre to Thupstan Chhewang, who was the first ever BJP member of Lok Sabha from Ladakh, has rattled the party in the cold desert region. Chhewang has resigned from his seat and also the primary membership of the party.
The MP took everyone by surprise when he shot a letter to the Lod Sabha Speaker and also state BJP chief Ravinder Raina on Thursday evening, saying he was quitting his seat and also primary membership of the party with immediate effect on “health grounds”.
A few days ago, Dorjay Motup, chief executive councilor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh, had also resigned from the post on health grounds.
Resignation of both leaders is likely to cause enormous loss to the BJP in the next year’s Lok Sabha elections in Ladakh where it has virtually been wiped out in the recent elections for the Kargil’s LAHDC and the municipal council of Leh.
The Congress won all 13 seats of the Leh’s municipal council and the BJP could secure only one of the 26 seats of the LAHDC of Kargil.
It was for the first time that the BJP in 2014 won the Ladakh Lok Sabha seat as Thupstan Chhewang, who was an influential member of the Congress resigned and joined BJP to contest the election. He was reportedly promised a ministerial berth at the Centre if he won the seat. However, he was not feeling comfortable in the BJP that failed to fulfill any of the electoral promises, sources close to Chhewang said. Moreover, he had been marginalised soon after winning the election.
Reacting to Chhewang’s resignation, former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted: “2 of the 6 Lok Sabha seats from J&K will now be vacant till the general elections. Anantnag has been vacant for more than 2 years now & Ladakh falls vacant once this resignation is accepted”.
Rigzin Zora, Congress MLA from Ladakh, said the BJP had already been wiped out of Ladakh during the recent LAHDC, Kargil and municipal elections.
There were reports that Thuptsan Chhewang and Motup were humiliated by certain junior level BJP leaders of Jammu and New Delhi following the party’s rout in the municipal elections as a result of which both decided to quit.
In a letter to Jammu and Kashmir BJP chief Ravinder Raina, Chhewang said: “I have to inform you that I am resigning from primary membership of the Bharatiya Janata Party on health grounds with immediate effect.”
He added: “I am also writing separately to the Hon’ble Speaker, Lok Sabha resigning as MP from Ladakh Parliamentary constituency.”
Raina confirmed that Chhewang had resigned from the party but claimed that he had for the past some time been saying he wanted to go towards spirituality and shun politics. He said the party had asked him to be in active politics till the 2019 elections.
Efforts to contact Thupstan Chhewang remained futile as his phones had been switched off since Thursday.