Leh: In cold desert, poll scene hots up

Direct fight between Congress, BJP; NC, PDP give up


The Leh Assembly constituency in mountainous Ladakh region would witness a direct contest between Congress and the right-wing BharatiyaJanta Party as the ruling National Conference and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have decided against fielding their candidates for the seat.

Congress’ NawangRigzinJora would be locked in a direct contest with TseringDorjay of BJP which has made inroads in the Buddhist-dominated Assembly segment.
As an independent, Jora won the 2002 Assembly elections from Leh uncontested as leaders of all political parties had dissolved their local units to pitch for the Union Territory status for Ladakh. But he later joined Congress. In 2008, Jora retained the seat with a margin of 1523 votes against ThupsanChewang, an independent.
Dorjay, the former Chief Executive Councilor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Leh, has represented the Assembly segment in 1996 as a Congress leader.
National Conference’s decision not to field any candidate follows slump in its vote bank in Leh over the past decade. The constituency is going to polls in the first phase of five-phased elections on November 25 along with Kargil, Zanskar and Nobra segments.
A political observer in Leh district, LamaaChewaeng, said the poll battle in the constituency would be “very tough” this time.
“BJP has been able to make inroads in Leh district,” he said.
The electorate strength of Leh has grown from 67299 in 2008 to 67736 in 2014.
In the past the electoral battle in Leh was confined between National Conference and Congress. The constituency was represented by KushakBakola of National Conference in 1957 and 1962. However in 1967 SonamWangyal of Congress bagged the seat and retained it in 1972 and in the next elections, SonamNarboo of Congress won the seat.
In 1983, National Conference made a comeback as its candidate SonamGyalson emerged as the winner. But, in 1987 Congress wrested control of the seat again as its candidate TseringSamphel bagged the segment.

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