Counting of votes under way in LADHC polls in Leh

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The counting of votes for the election to Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LADHC) Leh began in the district on Monday morning.

The 6th elections to the LAHDC Leh began on October 13 and 14 with postal ballots and the final polling took place on October 22 at over 294 polling booths across Leh district. The turnout was recorded at 65.07 per cent.

The main contesters are the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress for the 26-member LAHDC Leh, with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also in the fray. There are 94 candidates including 23 each from BJP and Congress, 19 from AAP and 23 independents. Two major regional parties National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are not participating in the elections.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 65.07 per cent of 89,789 voters cast their ballot. For the first time, EVMs were used for polling in the cold region of the country. The polling concluded peacefully.

The election is important for the BJP to prove its popularity in view of the Union Territory status granted to Ladakh on August 5 last year. A win for the BJP will be a morale booster for the party at a time when the Chinese army has occupied a large chunk of Indian territory in the cold desert.

Leh, which is a Buddhists-dominated district of Ladakh, has demanded the implementation of the 6th schedule for the UT to guard against demographic change and dilution of the unique cultural and tribal identity.

Earlier, several political, social and religious parties in Leh had formed the People’s Movement and called for the boycott of the LADHC elections until the Centre agreed to grant the region protection under the 6th schedule. It was only after Home Minister Amit Shah promised to consider the demand of the People’s Movement following the elections that the boycott call against it was withdrawn.