By Anwar Ali Tsarpa
31 August was quite sunny. On the desert like Kurbathang I could feel the heat a bit more. We had the huge black mountain of Naktul on our left and the Ringmospang on the front. On a little distance river Suru, flowing aggressively. It was indeed, the day of lifting curtains. But not of people’s deeds, but the results of the much-awaited fourth Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Kargil’s election.
Candidates were roaming around. Their throbbing heart does not allow them to be seated for a longer time. People were greeting and wishing them for best. For all those greetings, unwantedly they had to keep their face smiling. 99 were in fray for 26 seats. Comprised of 23 candidates Congress topping the contenders with 23, followed by local party PDP and Independents 21 each, National Conference had 20 and BJP 15. Major share fell into the kitty of National Conference with 10 seats. In- fighting dragged Congress to 8, PDP and BJP got 2 and one respectively. 5 Independents remained firm with 5 seats.
However, Congress gains the larger share of total votes with 17782 votes, NC remained second with 16688 votes, PDP gains 8495, BJP 2172 independent candidates collectively gains 12037 votes from among 66059 votes casted. Individually, Kacho Mohammad Feroz of INC from Pashkum constituency got highest number of vote 1681. For 83844 registered voters 258 polling stations had established. But the results infused disappointment among many people due to fractured mandate.
This election was different from many past elections due to various reasons. Firstly, sixty-two, relatively young candidates took part for the first time in the LAHDCK elections. Secondly, political analysers have observed that people are shifting towards agenda-based politics from traditional party or organisational based politics. As a result, according to political analysts, bogus votes remained negligible. Shift from traditional to agenda-based politics could be supported from the fact that three polling booths in Trespone constituency boycotted the elections citing their unheard prolonged issues of underdeveloped road, lack of fresh drinking water and lack of proper health facilities. Similarly, Tumail Colony in Pashkum constituency also had boycotted polls in the first half. When I contact them they said their agendas remained unheard.
Congress District President Nasir Munshi said that, choice of voters, unlike in the past elections, are unpredictable. Earlier the people were loyal and obedient to their party, but now their preferences are unpredictable. Similarly, PDP district president Kacho Gulzar also admitted that there is a major shift in the behaviour of the voters.
On the polling day, I got the opportunity to tour in all the three regions to some extent. Staring from Minjee I visited Gound Minjee, Minjee (both male and female), Goma Minjee, Gramthang, Trespone, Gondmangal Pore, Tambis, Kanoor, Tumail Colony, Pashkum, Akchamal, Poyen, Hardas, Chuliskamboo, Goma Kargil, Balti Bazar, Indoor Stadium, Girls Hr. Sec in Kargil town, and Baroo (male and female). On the counting day also, I was to observe the counting process since morning till the end. I observed that people from Drass sector are more passionate in whole election process. The first three constituency counted were from Drass sector. When I reached early in the morning hundreds of vehicles and people from Drass were anxiously waiting for the results outside polytechnic college building, where the counting process held. In the counting room also, they had sign of discomfort and eagerness in their behaviour.
Contrary to Drass sector, people from Zanskar were seemingly less interested in the results. They were so calm in the counting room that we could feel their respiratory process. People from other constituencies were moderately passionate for the results. However, people from Karchay, especially from Trespone, Lankerchey and G.M. Pore were relatively more passionate in the counting room as well as on the polling booth than the people from other constituencies but less than Drass sector.
In the morning, on next day of the results, they were seen in shape of fanatic mob, with huge queue of vehicles, escorting their winner candidates to respective constituencies. However, people from other constituencies were also involved in similar activities but were less passionate.
Due to frequent change in government in the past five years public wanted to get a single party in power. Prior to the election, in a random public interview, many respondents had maintained that they want a single party in power to form a “strong administration”. The political parties also and obviously wanted to get a single party in power. Haji Hanifa Jan had said that based on his past experience only a strong administration will be fruitful for development of Kargil. That is possible only if a single party comes into power with majority of seats in the council. Similarly, Munshi Nasir also had hoped to get 15 plus seats in the council to form a strong administration. But after the results people again seems to be disappointed due to fractured mandate.
In the current situation of fractured mandate, a strong government is possible only if the two largest parties form alliance. Before the elections both Haji Hanifa Jan and Rasool Nagvi of National Conference had wished to form government with the Congress. To form government with the independent candidates is “fruitless and loss for the district”, what Rasool Nagvi termed as “black-mailing”. He had urged the public to “not vote independent candidates” who initiates blackmailing. But unfortunately, we could not smell any efforts from their side to form government with the major parties, in order to form a strong government.
The article was first appeared in the weekly Voice of Ladakh on 7 September 2018.