September 1999 News

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Local issues to influence polls in Kargil

3 September 1999
Daily Excelsior

KARGIL: While major political parties in the country are highlighting the Kargil conflict in their poll campaigning, for the shell-shocked residents of this district the core election issues are rehabilitation and development in the aftermath of the crisis.

The residents of the district, peace of whose life has been shattered by the fighting that shook the sub-continent, now stand on the crossroads as they vote on Sunday with the issue of building of their immediate future in their mind.

Kargil is the part of Ladakh constituency whose 72,987 voters will be casting their ballots. In the district female voters, numbering 37,310, outnumber their male counterparts (35,677).

There are thousands of refugees who fled to safer areas during the fighting from May to mid-July and are now struggling to rehabilitate themselves amidst allegations of neglect by the administration.

We have nothing left as our houses and livestock were damaged during the conflict. With no harvest this summer we will be facing food shortage in the coming winter which isolates Ladakh region from the rest of the country due to heavy snowfall, says Mohammad Hadi, a resident who returned here from a refugee camp in Mingi.

The residents of Kargil are, however, largely unaware about their region becoming the poll plank of various political parties in the country.

For them the immediate issues are rehabilitation and development of the region which are likely to influence the outcome of polls.

We need medicine and shelter which all parties have promised only to woo us and after the polls nobody is going to listen to our plight, says Hadi.

As compared to four contestants during the 1998 elections, this time seven candidates are in the fray from Ladakh parliamentary constituency.

Prominent among them are Thupsan Chhewang of Congress, Hassan Khan of the ruling National Conference and Mohammad Hassan Commander, an independent.

Other candidates in the fray are Nasirullah (Janata Dal-Secular), Mohammad Murtaz and Kamal Kishore (independents).

Syed Hussain of NC was elected from Ladakh defeating P Namgiyal of Congress by a margin of 30,557 votes in 1998.

The real contest this time is between Chhewang, who is also the Chairman of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, and new face Hassan Khan of NC.

Another candidate who will be the deciding factor is former MP Mohammad Hassan Commander. BJP’s candidate from the seat is Mount Everest conqueror Sonam Paljar. (PTI)


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