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As the process for the Lok Sabha elections started with the issuance of notification for the first phase of polls, attention is fixed on the only Ladakh parliamentary seat of the Ladakh. During the last two successive elections of 2014 and 2019, the BJP has strengthened its position on this seat, which was once considered a stronghold of either the Congress or the National Conference.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the BJP created history when veteran politician of Ladakh, Thupstan Chhewang, won this seat as party candidate by a margin of only 36 votes. Earlier in 2004, Chhewang had won this seat as an independent candidate.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP candidate Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, who was then sitting Chairman-cum-CEC of LAHDC Leh, recorded an impressive victory margin of 10,930 votes over National Conference, PDP, and Islamiya School Kargil joint candidate, Sajjad Kargili. Namgayal polled 42,914 votes as against Sajjad Karigili's 31984.

Two other candidates in the fray in Ladakh were Haji Asgar Karbalaie, a former Congress MLA from Kargil, and Rigzin Spalbar (Congress), who finished third and fourth with 29365 and 21241 votes, respectively. Karbalaie had contested the election as an Independent

BJP Kargil
BJP media cell

BJP's prestige at stake in Ladakh

The main question echoing through political corridors revolves around whether the BJP can secure a hat-trick victory in this seat.

The prestige of BJP is involved in this seat because elections will be a verdict on the party's decision to abrogate Article 370 and grant Union Territory status to Ladakh, which was earlier part of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The BJP leadership treads cautiously, yet to declare whether Ladakh's current Lok Sabha representative, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, will be their contender, unlike other constituencies in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir where sitting Lok Sabha members were repeated.

The 2014 Lok Sabha elections marked a historic moment with the BJP's maiden triumph in Ladakh. Historically, Congress has held sway, winning six times, while the NC emerged victorious twice, and independent candidates three times.

Ladakh's political landscape changed after the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of the erstwhile state of J&K into two UTs.

Before August 5, 2019, Ladakh was part of Jammu and Kashmir, and now Ladakh is a separate Union Territory without its own legislative assembly.

The BJP faces the uphill task of securing a third consecutive victory in this crucial constituency amidst fervent calls for statehood.

Ladakhi groups
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BJP worries amid ongoing agitation in Ladakh

The ongoing agitation in Ladakh in support of full-fledged statehood and the granting of a sixth schedule added worries for the BJP before the elections.

The Kargil Democratic Alliance and the Leh Apex Body (LAB) have been spearheading the agitation in support of their four major demands, including full-fledged statehood for Ladakh, the implementation of the Sixth Schedule to protect the interests of the tribal people of Ladakh, separate Lok Sabha seats for Kargil and Leh, and the establishment of the "Ladakh Public Service Commission" with the Ladakh Resident Certificate (LRC) as a mandatory requirement for all Gazetted Posts in Ladakh.

Omar Abdullah
Omar Abdullah interacting with media persons at SrinagarNC media cell

NC likely to support Congress candidate on Ladakh seat

The National Conference, which is one of the constituents of the INDIA alliance in Jammu and Kashmir, has already announced support for a Congress candidate for the Ladakh Lok Sabha seat.

Recently, Vice President of the National Conference and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah announced that his party would contest three Lok Sabha seats in the Kashmir Valley and would support the Congress in two parliamentary constituencies in Jammu province and the lone seat in Ladakh.