LAHDC polls: Clouds of uncertainty hover over hill council elections

Amid border tensions with China in eastern Ladakh, amid ongoing Covid pandemic, clouds of uncertainty continue to hover over Ladakh Autnomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC polls) as barring BJP, all other political parties have advocated postponement of hill council elections.

A meeting was held under the chairmanship of deputy commissioner/CEO LADHC (Election authority) Leh with the political parties that include, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), congress party, Bhujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) regarding the 6th LADHC election.

Except BJP all the three political parties suggested for the postponement of the much awaited LADHC polls in view of the border tensions with China in Eastern Ladakh and ongoing global pandemic.

According to a document, among the four political parties only Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has agreed for the timely elections scheduled to be held in October while the other parties have cited ongoing pandemic and the border tensions with china in eastern Ladakh as a reason for postponement of the much awaited election, news agency KNO reported.

BJP Proposed timely Elections

The BJP during the meet proposed for timely LAHDC polls with suggestions that include, permissible gathering of 20 to 50 people with laid SOPs for rallies, restrictions on number of vehicles as well as on number of people (There should not be more than two persons in each vehicle), EVM used should be sanitized after each vote cast and creation of sub polling booth within the polling booth.

The representatives of congress party present in the meeting to decide about the LADHC election asked for the postponement of election in view of the increasing number of COVID-19 positive cases and prevailing border situation and said that the election should be held once the situation normalizes.

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The party apprehended that the large number of people have come to Leh from border villages so there might not be enough people in the village for campaigning, and at this juncture gathering of people might not be feasible also the number of areas are devoid of telecommunication and mobile facilities. “In such virtual rally might not be possible,” the document read.

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AAP Also gearing up for LAHDC Polls this time

Kejriwal led Aam Aadmi Party , that would be contesting its maiden LADHC polls citing Covid positive cases spike as a reason said that it wouldn’t be appropriate time to conduct election, the election must be postponed till the situation becomes normal, persons above the age of 65 are more vulnerable therefore there might not be much participation of such person in electoral process as it used to be earlier. Further even if ballot boxes are used, this might prove a potential source of contamination like EVM machines.

The party said that a large number of SOPs regarding social distancing and precautionary measures have been laid down. Therefore these SOPs may lead to delay in casting of votes, thereby resulting in low voter turnout. This might not be good sign for healthy democracy. Once the normalcy is restored, elections should be conducted with clear SOPs.

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The AAP also said that due to the ongoing border tension campaigning in border villages might not be possible thereby resulting in lower electoral process.

Bhujan Samaj Party (BSP), representatives in the meeting said that keeping in view of the current COVID-19 and border situation, the party advised for postponement of election.

The chair informed that the suggestions have been recorded.

The move from the government to hold, meet and decide about the forthcoming most awaited Ladakh Autonomous Development Hill Council (LADHC), elections comes during the time when situation in eastern ladakh is escalating and glooming tensions have emerged from the area.

Pertinently, Ladakh has so far reported over 3000 COVID positive cases with over 800 active positive cases among which only 35 have died of Covid of which 22 belong to Kargil and 13 from Leh.

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  • Wahid Bhat

    Wahid Bhat is an environmental journalist with a passion for covering climate change and environmental issues. He holds a degree in English Journalism (EJ) from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication and has received Media Fellow for NFI India (National Foundation for India) and Thomson Reuters Foundation. Wahid's reporting has been published in a range of respected outlets including Earth Journalism, Global Village Space, The Quint, Youth Ki Awaaz, and Devdiscourse

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