In Ladakh, it’s Kargil vs Leh

The Ladakh parliamentary seat would be a fight between Leh and Kargil as both regions have decided to field their own candidates to contest polls.

While the rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and their arch rival Congress have fielded Buddhist faces from Leh, National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have decided to back an independent candidate in Shia-dominated Kargil.

Congress has announced Rigzin Spalbar as its candidate for the seat while BJP has announced Jamyang Tsering Namgyal as its candidate.
The NC and the PDP on the other hand have decided to back social activist and journalist Sajad Kargili on the recommendation of religious groups of the district.

The Ladakh parliamentary seat is going to the polls on May 6.
As per the notification, the last date of filing nominations is April 18 while the scrutiny of papers would be held on April 20 and the last date of withdrawal of candidature is April 22 up to 3 pm.

Owing to the resentment among the people in Leh and Kargil to have the next parliament candidate from their respective region, the mainstream political parties apart from BJP had authorised Anjuman Jamiatul Ulama Islamia School Kargil (AJUISK), the largest religious organisation of the region to choose a common candidate.

AJUISK head, Sheikh Nazir Muhammadi told Kashmir Post over phone from Kargil that after several rounds of deliberation in the past two weeks, the forum decided to field Sajad Kargili as their independent candidate to fight the polls.
“He is a young and honest person. He is new and has no baggage unlike others. So our organisation decided that he is the best candidate who can represent our region,” Muhammadi said.

Muhammadi said they had conveyed their decision to all political parties (apart from the Congress) had agreed to back their candidate.
“All religious and political parties have given their consent to back him (Sajad). There is no conflict of interest,” he said.

There are about 1.72 lakh eligible voters for the Ladakh seat. The regional divide between Leh and Kargil has played a key role in the victory of any candidates in the past.
Muhammadi said after the recent row over the divisional status in which Kargil was initially deprived from having a Divisional Commissioner’s office, people had become more resilient to have their candidate in the parliament.

NC General Secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar said for the larger interest of the region, the party had decided to put its weight behind the independent candidate chosen by the religious bodies of Kargil.

However, Sagar said there was no alliance with the PDP in the region as the common candidate does not belong to the either parties.
Senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar said taking into consideration people’s aspirations in the region, the party had decided not to field any candidate in Ladakh.

Meanwhile, talking to Kashmir Post, independent candidate Sajad Kargili said it was a consensus of all political and religious parties to have a new face for these parliamentary polls from Ladakh region.
“It was not easy to bring all religious and political parties on a common platform but it was peoples’ demand to have a candidate that was acceptable to all,” he said.

Kargili said he would file nomination papers in next two days before hitting the road for poll campaign.