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In a three-way tight battle in Ladakh, the NC rebel is ahead

In the midst of the current protests over statehood and the status of the Sixth Schedule, the BJP, Congress, and an independent candidate are vying for the Lok Sabha seat in the frigid Ladakh region. Voting for the fifth round of the race takes place on May 20.

Only three candidates are running for the Ladakh seat, which has the greatest total area in the nation at 173.266 square kilometers: Tashi Gyalson of the BJP, Tsering Namgyal of the Congress, and Haji Hanifa Jan of the National Conference, an independent.

In all, 1,82,571 voters—91,703 men and 90,867 women—are qualified to cast ballots in the strategically important Ladakh parliamentary constituency, which shares borders with both Pakistan and China.

After Article 370 was repealed and the state of J&K split on August 5, 2019, two districts made up the Ladakh UT: the mostly Buddhist Leh district and the predominantly Muslim Kargil district.

unity between Leh and Kargil

Out of the three contestants, Hanifa Jan, the independent, is from Kargil, while two of the BJP and Congress are from Leh. There are 95,929 voters in the Kargil district and 88,879 in the Leh district.

Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) consists of the Kargil district’s social, student, trade, and religious organizations in addition to a number of political parties (BJP excluded). Hanifa Jan is the candidate from North Carolina.

The KDA and the Leh Apex Body (LAB) are leading the push for Ladakh UT’s inclusion in the Sixth Schedule and its own state. The Constitution’s Sixth Schedule establishes the administration of certain tribal lands as independent organizations. Rather than supporting Tsering Namgyal of the Congress, the NC’s Kargil section has revolted against the party leadership and quit in unison.

The NC leadership had requested that its Kargil branch back Namgyal since, in accordance with the INDIA bloc parties’ seat-sharing arrangement, the NC was meant to back Congress for the seat.

In flagrant defiance of the party leadership, the Congress Kargil section is also endorsing Hanifa Jan.

BJP in a pickle

The continuous fight for statehood and the 6th Schedule is the background against which the poll in the frigid desert is being held. The BJP was compelled to withdraw Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, the current MP, in response to public outcry and field Tashi Gyalson, a lawyer and former PDP leader.

Through Gyalson’s popularity among Leh locals, the BJP seeks to win back the trust of the general population. But the party finds itself in a difficult situation regarding Ladakh’s statehood and inclusion in the Sixth Schedule.

The formation of a distinct Ladakh UT from the former J&K state was credited to the incumbent MP for the BJP in Ladakh, and even the residents of Leh district applauded this development. However, this bliss did not

endure a long time. Parties in Leh and the Kargil district have teamed together to jointly push for Ladakh’s 6th Schedule status and statehood in order to safeguard the region’s employment and land.

Sonam Wangchuk, a climate activist and entrepreneur who had previously praised the establishment of Ladakh UT, has now partnered with LAB and KDA to push for Ladakh’s statehood and placement on the Sixth Schedule.

Kargil has the key.

Sensing the mood of the people, independent Hanifa Jan and Congress candidate Tsering have been actively pushing for Ladakh statehood and the 6th Schedule throughout their polling campaigns.

Political commentators believe that Hanifa Jan has an advantage over the other two candidates because of the district of Kargil’s widespread support. “BJP and Congress candidates will split the votes in Leh, but Hanifa Jan may receive more votes in Kargil with fewer chances of a split,” they said.

Several powerful Buddhist leaders attempted to run a single candidate in Leh to avoid a split of the votes, but that did not transpire.

Due to the presence of many candidates, Kargil used to have a split vote in past elections, which benefited the candidates.

from Leh. Less likelihood of a split vote in Kargil gives Hanifa Jan an edge in the elections. For the first time since 2014, there is a credible opposition to the BJP for the seat.

During a stepped-up campaign in which a number of BJP leaders canvassed voters, Gyalson said that the settlement of “pending issues” between the Ladakh government and the Centre will be his main priority. Tsering Namgyal, a candidate for Congress, said that by include the awarding of the sixth Schedule to Ladakh in its platform, his party had made a historic choice.

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