After putting up a united face in the first four phases of the Lok Sabha elections in Jammu & Kashmir, the ruling Congress-National Conference coalition goes into the final phase Wednesday as a divided house.
In Ladakh, the 1.6 lakh voters — the lowest in the state — have a choice of four candidates including Tsering Samphel of Congress and Thupstan Chewang of BJP.
While Chewang has been elected earlier, one dissident each from the ruling Congress and National Conference, Ghulam Raza and Syed Mohammad Kazim respectively, have joined the poll fray as independents. Hailing from Kargil district, Raza is an MLA from Zanskar and enjoys the support of Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust , while Kazim is supported by the local Islamia School.
As part of a pre-poll understanding, the Congress and the National Conference had split the six Lok Sabha seats. The NC fielded candidates in the constituencies falling in the Valley, leaving Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh for the Congress.
In Ladakh rebel candidates from both parties jumped into the battle against the official nominee. Making the divide wider, even sitting NC ministers openly campaigned for party rebel Kazim. Among them were the chief minister’s adviser Qamar Ali Akhoon who enjoys the status of a cabinet minister, Minister of State for Science and Technology Feroz Khan, besides sitting National Conference MP Ghulam Hassan Khan and former Chief Executive Councillor of Kargil’s Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council K.A. Khan.
In 2009 too, the NC-Congress pre-poll pact failed in Ladakh with the National Conference indirectly supporting its rebel Ghulam Hassan Khan, who won.