52,873 Voters Seal Fate Of 90 Candidates For 26 Seats Of Leh Council

17 October 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: An impressive 65.17 per cent turnout was recorded in the elections for prestigious Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh today with great enthusiasm witnessed among the voters in entire Leh district including remote and far flung areas. Leh lived up to its expectations of recording peaceful elections as barring minor clash between BJP and Congress at Lamayouru segment, the polling for all 26 seats passed off peacefully. A total of 52,873 electorates exercised their right to franchise from out of 81,134 eligible voters with Lower Leh segment from where sitting Chief Executive Councilor and Congress candidate Rigzin Spalbar is seeking fifth straight term, recording lowest turnout of 51.56 per cent while Lingshet constituency accounted for highest turnout of 86.58 per cent. Deputy Commissioner, Leh, Prasanna Ramaswamy, who is Election Authority for the LAHDC Leh polls, told the Excelsior that it was peaceful polling in all 26 seats of the Council from 8 am to 4 pm with approximate 66 per cent voters using their right to franchise. He said the polling percentage could go up by 1 to 2 per cent as reports from some far flung stations were still pouring in. 'The polling percentage might stand between 67 to 68 per cent,' he said. Ramaswamy said it was a peaceful polling in all 26 segments of the LAHDC Leh spread over entire Leh district. SSP Leh Sunil Gupta said the incident at Lamayouru segment in which Congress candidate Morup Dorjey had a tiff with woman and her son after the voting had been completed at 4 pm. The police and paramilitary personnel immediately defused the tension and police was investigating the matter. Gupta said both the parties have been called to police station to probe the matter. 'If the parties lodge complaint, we will register FIR,' he added. The incident, according to sources, took place when the polling was over at 4 pm and the Congress candidate was returning home. Exact nature of the allegations would be known in the complaints, they said, adding the woman and her son were the BJP supporters. Official sources said exact reports from five remote polling stations of an equal number of segments were awaited due to communication gap. They included Anle Phu polling station of Nyoma constituency with 84 electorates, Hipti in Khaltse segment having 31 voters, Phirchey in Korzok seat with 91 votes, Skurbuchan Lungba in Skurbuchan constituency with 281 voters and Relay Itching polling booth in Tangtse segment with 91 voters. 'The reports from these polling stations were expected to be received tomorrow morning,' sources said. Today's voting by 52,873 electorates out of a total of 81,134 votes have sealed the fate of 90 candidates for the LAHDC Leh elections in the ballot boxes, which will be opened for counting on October 23 at Degree College, Leh. The ballot boxes were used in the elections and not the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). The polling parties from Leh deposited the ballot boxes at the strong room this evening while most of the polling parties will reach Leh tomorrow morning including the parties which had to be airlifted back to Leh from five far flung polling booths. All results were expected to be declared by the evening of October 23. Though Lower Leh recorded lowest turnout of 51.56 per cent, it accounted for highest votes polled (5252) as the constituency had highest number of 10,187 electorates. Similarly, though Lingshet accounted for highest turnout of 86.58 per cent, the votes polled there were only 1522 as the segment had total of 1758 votes only. Lowest number of 558 votes were cast at Sku-Markha segment, which had total 663 voters. Reports said there was strong enthusiasm among the voters in all 26 constituencies of Leh. Though turnout was very less till 11 am due to cold, it picked up at 11 am and then strong queues of men, women and youngsters were witnessed at all polling booths. BJP MP from Ladakh Thupstan Chhewang, Congress MLAs from Leh and Nobra, Nawang Rigzin Jora and Deldan Namgial, Congress leader and CEC LAHDC Leh Rigzin Spalbar and several prominent candidates cast their votes. They reached polling stations with their supporters. Abhi Dolma, 93, was the oldest voter to exercise her right to franchise at Skara polling station this morning. A number of first time and young voters were seen taking selfies or posing for photographs after casting their votes and standing in the queue. Authorities had made tight security arrangements for the elections with deployment of paramilitary ITBP and CRPF, Jammu and Kashmir Police and Armed Police at all 274 polling stations for 26 constituencies, which led to complete peaceful polling. Former Minister and three-time Congress MLA from Leh, Nawang Rigzin Jora charged the BJP-PDP alliance with using state machinery and distributing money to lure the voters but claimed that the Congress will sweep the LAHDC Leh elections. BJP MLA Ramesh Arora, however, dismissed the Congress allegations saying Jora was frustrated after sensing the Congress defeat in the elections. Reports revealed that turnout was higher in far off constituencies as compared to Leh and Nobra towns, which indicated that enthusiasm was more in the rural than urban areas. This is the fifth election to the Leh Council with Congress emerging winner in three and Leh Union Territory Front (LUTF) once. In the outgoing Council, Congress had 22 and BJP four seats. However, the BJP was upbeat this time after winning Lok Sabha seat from Ladakh for the first time with Thupstan Chhewang emerging the winner last year. However, in the Assembly elections that followed Parliamentary polls, Congress had won both seats of Leh district. Sources said there was going to be direct contest between BJP and Congress this time, which were contesting 25 seats each. PDP and National Conference had put up eight candidates each. Newly floated New Ladakh Front (NLF) was in fray for 17 seats. Rest were Independents.