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Voting begins in Ladakh LS seat on warm, sunny day

Leh : Voters turned out in small groups on Monday to exercise their franchise in the Ladakh Lok Sabha seat as pleasant weather came in handy for electors to come out and participate in the democratic process.

There are 1.84 lakh voters in two districts of Leh and Kargil in the Ladakh Lok Sabha constituency where voting started on Monday.

The Election Commission has set up 577 polling stations in the constituency, including 298 in Leh district and 279 in Kargil district.

Hanle (Anle) Phu polling station in Leh district is located at a height of 15,000 feet above sea level and is the world’s second-highest polling station. Warshi polling station in the Nubra area of Leh district is the last village and only 20 km away from the Siachen Glacier base camp.

This polling station has been set up for only five voters belonging to just one family.

Poll staff, EVMs, and security personnel were airlifted by the IAF to Jinchan and Dipling polling stations in Leh and Phema, Ralakun, and Shadey polling stations in Kargil district.

Of 1.84 lakh voters, 95,926 are in the Kargil district and 88,877 in Leh district. There are 1,127 voters with disabilities and 1,570 elderly voters.

Leh district has a Buddhist majority while Kargil has a Shia Muslim majority.

Three candidates, Tashi Gyalson of the BJP, Tsering Namgyal of the Congress, and Haji Hanifa Jan, an Independent candidate supported by rebels of the National Conference (NC) and the Congress are in the fray.

As per the terms of the alliance of the INDIA bloc, NC had left Ladakh’s seat to the Congress, but the rebellion within the local NC and the Congress has brought the INDIA bloc alliance agreement to naught in this constituency.

BJP won this seat in 2014 and 2019. This time, it is likely that the lone Muslim candidate from the Kargil district would have an edge over the two rivals from Congress and the BJP.

The rebels expect the Buddhist vote to be split between the Congress and the BJP while the Independent Muslim candidate expects to get all the Shia Muslim votes of the constituency.

In 2014, BJP candidate Thupstan Chhewang won the seat in a four-cornered contest with Tsering Samphel in the fray from Congress and Ghulam Raza and Syed Mohammad Kazim as Independents from Kargil.

In 2019, BJP candidate Jamyang Tsering Namgyal won among four candidates, three others being Rigzin Spalbar of Congress, Sajjad Kargil and Haji Asgar Ali Karbalai of Kargil.

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