Fearing defeat, BJP refrains from fielding candidates from Ladakh’s Drass area for local body polls

Elections to the 316 Block Development Council seats sprawling across Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh are scheduled to be held on October 24

Fearing defeat, BJP refrains from fielding candidates from Ladakh’s Drass area for  local body polls
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Gulzar Bhat

The Bhartiya Janata Party has not fielded any candidates for the upcoming Block Development Council elections from Drass area in Ladakh due to apprehensions that it would lose.

The same was confirmed by BJP's block president Bilal Ahmad in a conversation with National Herald.

Elections to the 316 Block Development Council seats sprawling across Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh are scheduled to be held on October 24.

Drass, a quaint town some 55 km from Kargil, is divided into two blocks: Drass Upper and Bhimbat Lower. A total of four candidates — two from each block — are in the fray.

While Noor Mohammd and Bilal Ahmad are contesting from Drass Upper, Najma Banoo and Shamim Ahmad are fighting from Bhimbat Lower.

“All the candidates are contesting independently,” Ahmad said.

He conceded that there is a lot of anger against the BJP after it stripped the State of its special status.

“It is the sole reason that we did not field any candidate,” Ahmad added.

The entire Kargil district remained shut at least for four days against the Modi government's move announced on August 5. However, some people in Leh rejoiced over the radical development, with a smattering of BJP supporters hitting the streets in Leh town and dancing to Ladakhi songs.

However, many residents in Ladakh say that people in both the districts — Kargil and Leh — were afraid of losing their jobs, business opportunities as well as large swathes of land to outsiders, now that there is no restriction on the latter.

“People are not happy with the decision. Now Ladakh is left with no means to represent itself as the region has been reduced to a Union Territory without any legislature,” said Sajad Hussain Kargili, a prominent political activist.

He added that they were never in “favour of dividing the state or doing away with its special position.

Many panchs and sarpanchs in Kargil, who make the electoral college for the forthcoming elections, said that they were fighting independently merely to keep the BJP out.

“Our only aim is to contain the penetration of communal forces into this area at the grassroots level,” said a sarpanch.

BJP only party in the fray

After the Congress, National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party and CPI( M) decided to boycott the elections, BJP remained the only major political party to contest the polls.

The BDC elections are seen as a farce by mainstream political parties, since the leaders of more or less all parties are under detention.

“The Bhartiya Janata Party,” a National Conference leader said, “has created such a situation where these elections have become ‘BJP vs none’”.

“Public Safety Act (PSA) has been slapped against a former chief minister and sitting Lok Sabha member while two other former chief ministers continue to be under detention. Is this the way BJP wants grass roots democracy to grow,” he said.

The elections of panchs and sarpanchs were held last year on non- party lines. Although the polls were boycotted by NC and PDP, the election commission went ahead with the process despite threats from militants not to hold the polls. In the Valley, around 60 percent of panch and sarpanch seats remained vacant as no candidate filed nomination papers from these seats.

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Published: 18 Oct 2019, 3:46 PM
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