JAMMU Congress is facing revolt from within on the eve of Ladakh parliamentary seat as a party rebel, backed by an influential religious organisation, has filed his nomination as an independent candidate, making the May 6 election a multi-cornered contest involving BJP.
Rigzin Spalbar of Congress, is fighting against party rebel and veteran politician Asgar Ali Karbalai.
Spalbar, a Buddhist leader, is a two-time chief executive councillor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh, and Karbalai is a former MLA of Kargil.
There are six other candidates in the election fray.
Tsering Namgyal, the current CEC of the hill development council is the BJP candidate. Dorji Angchuk is its “covering candidate”.
On the last day of filing of nominations on Thursday, five independents, including Karbalai, filed their papers with the election commission.
Ladakh Lok Sabha constituency is the largest in India in terms of area.
Out of six parliamentary constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh has the distinction of having the least number of polling stations, 559, for the lowest number of voters, 1,71,819. Leh and Kargil districts have 294 and 265 polling stations, respectively.
Karbalai, after denial of Congress ticket, decided to take on Spalbar, in a major setback to the grand old party. He is backed by the influential Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust (IKMT), Kargil.
However Karbalai is facing a challenge from journalist turned politician and his one time ally, Sajad Hussain. Sajad has been fielded by Islamia School head Nazir-ul-Mehdi a rival of IKMT and has the backing of both NC and PDP.
Namgyal, 31, has served as private secretary to former BJP MP and Buddhist spiritual leader Thupstan Chhewang.
But, political observers say, the saffron party is struggling to rise to the challenge.
Chhewang had won the seat for BJP for the first time in 2014 but he resigned from its primary membership in November last year, calling BJP’s promises “empty rhetoric”.
With split in votes in Kargil, observers believe, candidadtes from here face an uphill task ahead as there is near total polarisation of votes on communal lines.
In Ladakh, the last date for withdrawal of candidature is April 22.
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