Less than a month before the elections to the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh, the leaders of political and religious organisations have taken a unanimous decision to boycott the polls till the Centre grants constitutional safeguards to the Union Territory under the Sixth schedule of the Constitution, along the patterns of the Bodo Territorial Council.
BJP’s Leh district president Nawang Samstan has also joined the boycott, along with leaders of 11 other parties.
Signatories to a joint statement issued include former MPs Skyabje Thiksey Khanpo Rinpochey and Thupstan Chewang and former Leh BJP president Chering Dorjey Lakrook, who resigned from his post in protest against the delay by the UT administration in bringing home Ladakh residents stranded in different parts of the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The polls to the LAHDC, Leh are scheduled for October 16, the first such exercise in the region after the Union Territory of Ladakh was carved out from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370 last year. The date for filing of nomination papers has been fixed as September 21-28, followed by scrutiny to be held on September 29 and the last date for withdrawal of nomination papers on October 1.
Chewang, a former BJP leader who resigned in 2018, said, “The apex body of People’s Movement of Sixth Schedule for Ladakh unanimously resolved to boycott the ensuring 6th LAHDC elections till such time the constitutional safeguard under Sixth schedule on the lines of Bodo Territorial Council is not extended to the UT Ladakh and its people.”
Samstan could not be contacted despite repeated calls. However, BJP general secretary (organisation) for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, Ashok Koul, said that the party “will contest the LAHDC election. We too have come to know about Samstan attending the meeting and we are enquiring into it”.
Party sources said he was leaving for Ladakh to look into the issue.
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