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Posted at: May 26, 2019, 7:47 AM; last updated: May 26, 2019, 7:47 AM (IST)

BJP emerges strongest force in Ladakh

Dominates 3 out of 4 Assembly segments in arid region | Vote share in LS poll up by 7%
BJP emerges strongest force in Ladakh
Voters at a polling station in Ladakh. File photo

Arteev Sharma

Tribune News Service

Jammu, May 25

Notwithstanding strong “internal differences”, the BJP has emerged as the strongest force in the arid Ladakh region where the party has managed to increase its vote share by 7 per cent in the just-concluded parliamentary polls.

Besides, the BJP has expanded its base in the region where it dominated three out of the four Assembly segments (Nubra, Leh, Kargil and Zanskar) in the Ladakh parliamentary seat.

In the 2014 parliamentary polls, the BJP had secured 26.36 per cent votes, but its vote share went up to 33.94 per cent in the 2019 polls which assumed great significance in view of the Congress stronghold in three Assembly segments of the region and deep religious divide between Buddhists and Shia Muslims.

The BJP’s growing popularity in the Ladakh region was quite clear from the fact that the party had lead from only one Assembly segment, Leh, during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls at a time when its tallest leader Thupstan Chhewang was contesting the elections. This time around, the BJP took lead in three Assembly seats, including Shia Muslim-dominated Zanskar segment.

This is despite the fact that the Congress had won three assembly seats, Nubra, Leh and Kargil, post the 2014 parliamentary elections. The Congress had also swept the civic polls in Leh district last year by winning all 13 municipal seats, while the BJP failed to open its account in the region.

As per the latest available data, the BJP polled 3,958 votes in Nubra during the 2014 polls against 5,009 votes secured by the Congress. But the BJP topped the voters’ tally in this Assembly segment with 4,996 votes against 3,791 votes of the Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

This time, the BJP took a lead of almost 10,000 votes over the Congress in the Leh assembly segment, which was being represented by the Congress stalwart Nawang Rigzin Jora. In 2014, the margin of votes was just 4,657.

What was more significant in the 2019 parliamentary polls was the domination of the BJP in the Shia Muslim dominated Zanskar seat despite the fact that it fielded a Buddhist face in the elections.

In the 2014 elections, the BJP got just 1,339 votes from Zanskar, but this number went up to 7,147 in 2019. The majority Muslim votes divided into two independent candidates, Congress rebel Asgar Ali Karbalaie and PDP, NC and influential Islamia School Kargil (ISK) backed Sajjad Hussain Kargili who secured 5,510 and 5,082 votes from Zanskar, respectively. There was a joint complaint to the Election Commission of India (ECI) by three candidates regarding alleged rigging and intimidation of voters by the BJP in the Zanskar sub-division.

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