Leh Council Polls: 94 Candidates In Fray

Leh: As many as 94 candidates are in the fray for the elections to the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh, the first democratic exercise in the region post the union territory status, officials said on Wednesday.

The polls are scheduled to be held on October 22.

The 26 seats of the LAHDC Leh are likely to witness a triangular contest between the BJP, the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which is trying its luck for the first time in the region.

None of the regional parties, including the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party, are participating in the polls.

On the last day for the withdrawal of the candidature on Wednesday, 67 of the 161 candidates withdrew their nomination papers for the sixth general election to the LAHDC Leh, leaving 26 members each of the BJP and the Congress and 19 members of the AAP besides 23 independents in the fray, the officials said.

A total of 164 candidates had filed their nomination for the 26 seats and later the candidature of three of them was rejected during scrutiny of papers on October 5, they said.

The counting of votes will take place on October 26 and the poll process is expected to be completed by October 30.

A shadow of uncertainty hung over the polls after the recently floated ‘Peoples Movement for Sixth Schedule for Ladakh’, a powerful platform having representatives from various political, religious and social organisations, announced a poll boycott last month.

However, it withdrew its poll boycott call within days after a delegation of the Ladakhi leaders met Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and highlighted its various demands including protection of land and jobs.

The officials said all arrangements are in place to ensure smooth polling which is being held at a time when the country is grappling with COVID-19 pandemic.

Ladakh has recorded 61 COVID-related deaths with a total caseload of 4,720. While 3,464 patients have recovered till Tuesday evening, the number of active cases in the UT stands at 1,195 — 904 in Leh district and 291 in Kargil district.

In the wake of the pandemic, the officials said social distancing and wearing of masks would be ensured during the polling between 8 am to 4pm.

They said Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have reached Leh for the polling, while postal ballot arrangements have been made for those who are above the age of 65 years, COVID-19 patients and differently-abled persons.

There are 3,500 postal ballots, out of them 350 are service personnel, the official said.

Kargil district has a separate hill council which was elected in 2018 for a five-year term.

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