In the first-ever urban local bodies (ULBs) elections held in Ladakh, the Congress has bagged all the 13 wards in Leh. The party has won five wards in Kargil while independents were declared elected to eight wards. The BJP has got a drubbing from the Congress and has failed to win even a single ward in both the districts. The results were declared on 20 October in the twin districts.
A closer look at the results also shows that there are signs of reinvigoration of the Congress, and there are reasons for the BJP to worry about its positions in the 2019 elections.
Against all odds, the Opposition has carved out a fighting space for itself. The Congress has managed to demonstrate that it is still a reckoning force.
Tsering Namgyal, District Congress Committee President, says “We were expecting 7-8 seats only but on the results day, we were quite surprised. People have voted for us and we are hoping to serve them with dedication. Since, it’s held in Ladakh for the first time, we need to understand the whole functioning of the Municipal Committee and work accordingly.
Leh district witnessed only 54.2 % voting while Kargil district recorded 78.15% voting for the municipal committees.
Namgyal says, “Whenever there are elections in Kargil, people take it in a festive mood and participate in the election which is very healthy for democracy and we should appreciate it. Sadly, in Leh, people took it very lightly and 50% have not taken it seriously which should not be the case. We need to look for the reasons and dynamics for low poll in Leh.”
When asked about the clean sweep of the Congress, he says, “We didn’t do aggressive campaigning except for some posters but we requested or sent messages to take the MC election seriously as it is very important for the development of Leh town.”
“Today people are politically well aware and no political party can fool them and take them for granted. We cannot force family members to vote for any particular party like in the past as now people are well-educated. Besides, it seems that they weigh the candidates very cautiously. Our candidates were experienced and strong. This is a big responsibility and the leader should be capable enough to carry all the work smoothly. So, we have decided to appoint Dr. Ishey Namgyal as the President of MC”, says Namgyal.
The oath-taking ceremony for the newly-elected members was held on 29 0ctober at the DC Conference hall. Avny Lavasa, Deputy Commissioner, administered oath to the 13 elected members.
Namgyal further says that Municipal elections are like a semi-final for the upcoming 2019 elections and a litmus test for all the political parties. This election clearly indicates that people are not happy with the ruling party. The back- breaking rise in prices of fuels, LPG and ration curtailment has turned the life of aam admi miserable.
“We thought that the winning margin will be low but it turned out to be huge. Almost every candidate has won 200 votes on an average, and even on individual basis the margin was quite good. From this, we can make out that the minds of the people are changing. People want to send the message that they cannot fool them and take them for granted. The ruling party has left many promises unfulfilled,” he adds.
While on the other hand, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, President, BJP, says, “There was no shortage on the basis of performance on our part, be it work, development, and bringing additional funds. Our performance was far better than the previous Council’s. Recently, before MC elections, we got 165 cr in languishing projects (physically and financially), got 55 cr for major projects like AMRUT. There were no lapses from our side”.
He further says, “During our tenure, all the blacktopping in the areas like housing colony, upper and lower Leh, Skalzangling to Spituk road under CRF were completed. In the last 3-4 years, we have done quite well. There can be many reasons for our failure this time but one thing is sure that if the results were based on development, then the BJP should have won all the wards. The Opposition has won because it resorted to gimmicks and lies.”
“Surprisingly, even after working so hard like getting additional funds and bringing changes in the LAHDC Amendment Bill 2018, the vote goes to the Congress. This is not a question for the BJP alone to ponder over, it’s a question for every voter too”, says Jamyang.
It is clear now that public opinion in Ladakh has turned against the BJP despite having a majority in the Hill Council, Leh. This development has opened up many possibilities for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.