The 5 of the 26 constituencies of Leh’s Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) where the Indian Army is standing in the eyeball to eyeball position with the Chinese troops on Thursday witnessed heavy polling for the Council.
This was the first election for the LAHDC after Ladakh was made a Union Territory (UT) but China has refused to accept the change in the status of Ladakh.
Chushul and Nyoma constituencies along the LAC registered 74.70 and 82.8 percent polling.
Turtuk along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan occupied J&K registered less voting of 27.91 percent.
Highest 83.59 percent polling was recorded in the Sku-Markha constituency.
Electorate came out in strength for polling for the prestigious 26 seat LAHDC and total 65.12 percent votes were cast.
Polling was marked with scepticism on the issue of meeting the demand for 6th Schedule for the newly carved out Union Territory (UT).
Enthusiasm was witnessed among the electorate who cast 46.56 % votes till 2 pm.
An official spokesman of the UT said that 41,802 of the total 89,776 electorate had cast their vote till 2 pm.
Women were in the forefront in voting and 21,859 of them had exercised their franchise till the afternoon against 19,943 men.
Five of the 26 constituencies of the LAHDC fall along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) where the Indian Army is standing eyeball to eyeball with the Chinese troops for the past more than five months. These are Aorzok, Nyoma, Chushul, Tang-tse and Rong.
There are 94 candidates in the fray for 26 seats. The BJP and Congress have fielded their candidates on all 26 seats, whereas the Aam Admi Party (AAP) has fielded 19 candidates and 23 are independents.
The authorities had established 294 polling booths, 2 of which were not accessible by road and as such the voting material and staff was flown there in helicopter.
The BJP had won 18 of the 26 seats of the LAHDC in 2015. In addition, four members are nominated by the government.
The Apex Body spearheading the agitation for granting 6th Schedule to Ladakh had withdrawn the poll boycott call after a meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah where it was decided that further discussion on the issue will be initiated 15 days after the LAHDC election.
All parties of Ladakh were demanding application of the 6th Schedule for Ladakh, which they claimed was a tribal area.
However, there was scepticism among most voters who were not sure whether they will get the 6th Schedule or not because the Shia Muslim dominated Kargil district has started opposing the move and were demanding restoration of the Article 370.
Moreover, the union ministers who campaigned for BJP candidates were more or less non-committal on the issue.
The AAP has for the first time jumped into the election for the LAHDC. However, no senior party functionary from Delhi campaigned for its candidates.
The campaign of BJP was full throttled with 4 central ministers, Anurag Thakur, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Kiren Rijiju and GK Reddy and also the party’s general secretary Arun Singh addressing rallies across the Leh district.
The Congress campaign was also aggressive but no leader from Delhi came to campaign. Ladakh’s Congress chief, Nawang Rigzin Jora was the star campaigner.