LAHDC Elections On Oct 16

Leh: Authorities in the Union Territory of Ladakh have announced schedule of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) polls, notwithstanding opposition's demand for postponement of the exercise in view of the border tension and spike in Coronavirus cases.

In a notification issued by Saugat Biswas, Secretary election department, the voting will take place on October 16 in 26 constituencies of the Council.

Earlier, representatives of opposition parties— Congress, AAP and BSP—had advised for the postponement of elections in view of the escalating border tensions and growing COVID positive cases in the region.

Meanwhile, the district magistrate Leh, Sachin Kumar Vaishya has issued an order for imposition of model code of conduct in the district and directed all the political parties and independent candidates to follow the guidelines for the smooth conduct of the exercise.

This will be 6th election of Leh Hill Council, which was set- up in 1995 when erstwhile State of J&K was under direct central rule.

Former CEC Calls For Poll Boycott

Meanwhile leader of the opposition and former chief executive councillor LADHC, Rigzin Spalbar Saturday asked the apex body led by veteran leaders to call for an election boycott stating that the elected council will continue to be toothless and irrelevant.

He made the remarks a day after the administration in Ladakh announced the schedule for LADHC polls even as the three political parties of the region had advised for the postponement of polls.

In a statement issued, Spalbar said that since COVID-19 pandemic and casualties were on the rise, compelling the chairman and deputy chairman LAHDC to approach the Lt. Governor to take urgent measures to control the rising numbers of positive cases by suggesting a bi-weekly lockdown, it was expected that election would be postponed.

The statement read that besides the worrisome status of the pandemic, at present the entire Ladakh is in a state of uncertainty over the preservation of its unique tribal identity, habitats & ecosystem vis-à-vis its future existence and survival due to lack of constitutional safeguards in the form of the 6th Schedule.

"I am of the firm opinion that holding the elections to LAHDC Leh, without extending the relevant provisions of the 6th Schedule of our constitution, which empowers the councils by vesting it with legislative powers, is meaningless.”

The statement further stated that the democratically elected council, representing the popular will of the people of Ladakh, could not continue to be toothless and irrelevant.

"Participation in the elections and voting in it, while now the demand for the grant of the 6th Schedule has got an unprecedented and overwhelming support, may not serve our cause. It is only in the best interest of the demand for the 6th schedule that we do not participate at all in the elections unless our demand is met."

Spalbar appealed to the Apex Body of the 6th Schedule Movement to consider giving a boycott call in order to strengthen the demand for grant of the 6th Schedule.

"It is to be noted that all socio-cultural, religious, trading, students and political organizations of Leh have already extended their full support to the Apex Body led by the veteran leaders,” the statement read.

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