April 2019 News

Congress Fields Leh Buddhist Leader Spalbar From Ladakh

6 April 2019
The Tribune
Arteev Sharma

Jammu: Political activity heated up in the country's cold desert Ladakh on Saturday after the Congress decided to field Buddhist leader Rigzin Spalbar as the party candidate from the parliamentary seat. The Congress' decision has created a vertical divide in the two districts - the Buddhist-dominated Leh and Shia Muslim-majority Kargil - in Ladakh as Shia leaders, irrespective of their political affiliations, were planning to come on a single platform to discuss the unfolding political situation in the region and possibly field a 'consensus candidate to defeat Buddhist candidates of the BJP and Congress'. 'The party has finalised the name of Rigzin Spalbar as its candidate for the Ladakh seat,' senior Congress leader from Ladakh, Nawang Rigzin Jora, told The Tribune. To a query about resentment in Kargil, Jora said, 'The Congress poll campaign in charge in J&K, Ghulam Nabi Azad, will speak to Kargil leaders, particularly former MLA Asgar Ali Karbalaie.' The Congress had shortlisted two candidates: Two-time chief executive councillor (CEC) of the powerful the Leh council, Rigzin Spalbar, and former MLA Asgar Ali Karbalaie, a senior Shia Muslim leader from Kargil district. Senior Congress leaders in Kargil also convened a crucial meeting of all councillors, district, block and zonal presidents on Saturday 'to chalk out the future strategy'. They explored the options of fielding a 'common candidate' with the support of other political groups. Congress ally National Conference (NC), which is yet to announce its nominee from Ladakh, has been keenly watching the situation. 'We are holding discussions on fielding a consensus candidate who will be supported by all groups from Kargil,' senior NC leader from Kargil Qamar Ali Akhoon said. The BJP has also fielded a Buddhist face and incumbent CEC of the Leh council, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, from the Ladakh seat, a move that caused anger among senior leaders of the saffron party in the region. During the last parliamentary elections in 2014, the Congress had fielded senior Buddhist leader Tsering Samphel from Ladakh but it lost the seat to the BJP by a margin of just 36 votes because Shia-dominated Kargil district had supported Congress rebel Ghulam Raza who remained the runner-up in the polls. Veteran leader Thupstan Chhewang had won the seat for the BJP for the first time in 2014 but he resigned from the membership of the saffron party in November last year, saying that all promises made by the BJP sounded like an 'empty rhetoric'. The Congress' decision to field Buddhist leader Rigzin Spalbar has created a vertical divide in the two districts - the Buddhist-dominated Leh and Shia Muslim-majority Kargil - in Ladakh as Shia leaders, irrespective of their political affiliations, were planning to come on a single platform to discuss the unfolding political situation in the region and possibly field a 'consensus candidate to defeat Buddhist candidates of the BJP and Congress'

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