New front set to win Leh, Nobra unopposed
31 August 2002
SRINAGAR: History is in the making in the Leh district of Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, where filing of nominations for the coming Assembly elections is under way. In both the Assembly segments of Nobra and Leh, consensus candidates of the recently-floated Ladakh Union Territory Front (LUTF) will be officially declared elected without contest on Monday. The Buddhist-dominated Leh district has politically snapped its ties with Kashmir though Kargil continues to associate itself with the Valley. With the withdrawal of two Independent candidates, Ahmadullah Azad and Tsering Dorjey, from the elections, Nawang Rigzin of the LUTF alone is left in the fray. He will be declared elected unopposed on Monday, last day for withdrawing nominations. In the neighbouring Nobra constituency, LUTF''s Sonam Wangchuk Narboo is the only candidate in the fray. The two constituencies were scheduled to go to the polls on September 16 in the first phase. Last week, all the political parties in Leh were disbanded and a joint forum called LUTF was formed to press the demand for a separate Leh and a Union Territory status for it. The ruling National Conference received a jolt when the Minister of State for Agriculture and MLA from Nobra, Testan Namgayal, resigned along with the Rajya Sabha MP, Koushak Ticksay, to join the front. The Congress, the BJP and the Ladakh Muslim Association also supported the front. The National Conference decided against fielding a candidate against the LUTF, saying it did not want to divide the region on communal lines. Though Kargil district has rejected the idea of separating from Kashmir, two important religious outfits, Imam Khumeini Trust and Islamia School, have thrown their lot behind an Independent candidate. And a Shia leader, Asgar Karbalai, is also in the fray making the contest tougher for the National Conference nominee and Minister of State for Works, Qamar Ali Akhoon.