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Jammu and Kashmir polls: Disgusted with politics, students in Kargil avails of Nota option

The clergy’s candidate, Ghulam Raza, who contested as an independent lost by 36 votes to BJP’s Thupstan Chewwang, a Buddhist from Leh.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Nov 14, 2014, 04.45 AM IST
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The clergy’s candidate, Ghulam Raza, who contested as an independent lost by 36 votes to BJP’s Thupstan Chewwang, a Buddhist from Leh.
The clergy’s candidate, Ghulam Raza, who contested as an independent lost by 36 votes to BJP’s Thupstan Chewwang, a Buddhist from Leh.
SRINAGAR: Disgusted with politics, 561 students in Kargil availed of the Nota option and shocked the Muslim clergy that has remote-controlled voters here for decades. As a result, the clergy’s candidate, Ghulam Raza, who contested as an independent lost by 36 votes to BJP’s Thupstan Chewwang, a Buddhist from Leh.

Although voting is supposed to be secret, 1,200 students studying outside J&K availed of postal ballots. When these were counted it became clear that most students had chosen ‘None of the Above’ option. Leh had 383 NOTAs, Nubra 85 and Zanskar 173, making Nota one of the preferred option in Kargil in the LS poll.

With PM Narendra Modi planning a second visit to campaign for BJP’s four assembly candidates in the twin districts, the region is still in poll mode. Unlike during the LS polls, when the two districts competed with each other, the divisions are within the districts.

BJP has fielded candidates in both Kargil seats. The party polled 1,963 votes in Kargil and 1,339 in Zanskar in the LS polls. While buntings and lotus-posters decorate roads and homes, the party’s spread in the region is much lesser than projected.

In Leh, it’s a better scene for BJP with Chering Dorjey locked in a close contest with Congress’ Nawang Rigzin Jora, a minister seeking reelection for the third time. Dorjey had a term in the assembly in 1996 as NC member before joining BJP. In Leh’s sister-seat, Nubra, its an even battle between NC, Congress, BJP and PDP. “The campaign is picking up and it seems Leh seat is no cakewalk for BJP. In Nubra, it is too early to foresee the outcome but the sitting MLA has no incumbency problems,” says T Wangchuk.

Kargil’s politics has been dominated by two schools: The Islamia School and the Imam-e-Khomanie Trust. Unlike the Trust that continues to be with Congress, the Islamia School is divided into three factions with one each siding with NC, PDP and BJP. NC had both seats in the last assembly. Locals attribute two reasons for NC’s Kargil crisis. Firstly, they are accused of choking Congress-run Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council resulting in halt to developmental activities this fiscal. Secondly, it failed in helping out Islamia School to beat Congress’ Asgar Karblaie, who became the chief of LAHDC.

As a result, NC’s mini ster Qamar Ali Akhnoon refused to contest and the ticket was given to Kachoo Mohammad Hussain, a doctor.

Kachoo’s popularity is not enough to arrest the anti-incumbency NC faces. This means, Karblaie is likely to win.

In Zanskar, NC’s Feroz Khan surrendered to the Islamia School well before his party could take a call on his candidature. Now he plans to campaign for SM Baqir Rizvi, who is contesting as an independent. Baqir is a good candidate but Congress’ Ghulam Raza cannot be written off.

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