National Conference’s top leadership resigns in Ladakh to support non-INDIA bloc candidate

The move came after the Congress high command named Tsering Namgyal, a Buddhist from Leh, as the INDIA bloc candidate

May 06, 2024 09:15 pm | Updated 09:48 pm IST - SRINAGAR

National Conference President Farooq Abdullah. File

National Conference President Farooq Abdullah. File | Photo Credit: PTI

Political drama continued in the Ladakh Lok Sabha seat on Monday, as the top leadership of the National Conference (NC) resigned to support a non-Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc Independent candidate from the Muslim-majority Kargil district. 

“The (NC) party high command is pressurising us to support the official candidate of Congress from Ladakh, which is unacceptable to us including, J&K NC and Congress Unit Kargil... We are compelled to resign en masse. This letter may be considered as mass resignation of all party functionaries from the primary membership of NC,” Qamar Ali Akhoon, additional secretary of the NC, said, in a letter written to the NC president Dr. Farooq Abdullah.

Both the NC and the Congress are members of the INDIA bloc. According to the NC-Congress seat sharing arrangement, the NC was supposed to field candidates from the three seats of the Kashmir valley and the Congress from two seats of Jammu and one seat of Ladakh. However, the old fault lines between Muslims and Buddhists have resurfaced in Ladakh.  

“In the interest of the Ladakh region as a whole and in order to secure the future of our region, the Ladakh Democratic Alliance (LDA) has unitedly decided to project a joint candidate, Mohammad Haneefa Jan as Independent candidate,” Mr. Akhoon said. 

Mr. Jan was also a NC leader and served as a district president of the party in Kargil. He filed his nomination papers as an Independent candidate. The move came after the Congress high command named Tsering Namgyal, a Buddhist from Leh, as the INDIA bloc candidate, to the displeasure of residents of Kargil district. Ladakh, carved out as a Union Territory in 2019, has Muslim-majority Kargil district and Buddhist-majority Leh district. It’s the first Lok Sabha election in the region after 2019.

“All the political and religious institutions unanimously support Mr. Jan from Kargil. Our entire focus is how to send Mr. Jan to the Parliament. The future course of action will be decided later,” Mr. Akhoon said.

In another development, Sajjad Kargili, a key member of the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), which is fighting for Statehood status and inclusion in the Sixth Schedule, on Monday withdrew his nomination papers in favour of Mr. Jan. “There were requests from many quarters to withdraw. I decided to withdraw in the larger interest of the region,” Mr. Kargili said.

Commenting on the upheaval the party was facing in Ladakh, Dr. Abdullah said, “There is a situation there. We had committed to the Congress that it will field a candidate from Ladakh. We urge partymen to support the INDIA bloc’s decision. However, those who are not supporting can leave the party.” 

Ladakh has a total number of 1,82,571 voters, including 91,703 male and 90,867 female voters. It is going to vote on May 20.

Another independent candidate Feroz Ahmed Khan also withdrew his nomination papers in favour of Mr. Jan.

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