LUTF support to coalition Govt conditional : Rigzin
3 November 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Ladakh Union Territory Front (LUTF) leader and Minister of State for Public Works Department (PWD) Nawang Rigzin said today that the support of two LUTF MLAs to Mufti Sayeed led coalition Government was ‘conditional’. 'Our support to the new State Government was based on three conditions—to strengthen the Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), to look into reasons behind the demand for Union Territory (UT) status in Ladakh and ensure equitable development of Ladakh region', Rigzin told EXCELSIOR in an exclusive and first interview after taking oath as a Minister of State yesterday. 'And if the Government didn’t do that (fulfill out charter of just three demands), we wouldn’t hesitate even for a minute to withdraw our crucial support to the Government', he warned. It may be recalled that all political parties in Ladakh including National Conference, Congress (I) and BJP had wound up their parties and formed LUTF on the eve of Assembly elections in the State. Two Ministers in the NC Government and a member of Rajya Sabha had also resigned to join the Front. Later, two candidates—Nawang Rigzin and Sonam Wangchok Norboo — nominated by the LUTF from Leh and Nubra constituencies had been elected unopposed to the Assembly. Nawang Rigzin explained that the LUTF changed its previous stand of staying neutral and extended support to PDP-Congress (I) coalition Government after observing that leadership of the two parties were making a ‘sincere and honest effort’ to solve ‘immediate problems’ of all three regions. 'Appointment of a Jammu leader (Mangat Ram Sharma) as Deputy Chief Minister of the State and induction of a Minister each from Leh and Kargil in the first Ministry itself was a significant decision', he pointed out. Declaring that LUTF still stands for the grant of UT status to Ladakh, Rigzin, however, said that this demand was part of a long term strategy adopted by the Front. 'As and when a ‘lasting and honourable solution’ to the Kashmir problem is reached, we are bound to get the UT status', he averred. According to him, Jammu and Kashmir regions should be made two separate States with a quantum of autonomy to later while Ladakh should be made a Union Territory. 'This could be the most practical and lasting solution to the problems of all three regions of the State', Rigzin said but clarified that he was not speaking language of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). However, he hastened to add that the demand of Union Territory status could take sometime to fulfill. 'The demand was not going to be met in just one or two years but could be linked to a permanent solution to Kashmir problem'. Under ‘short term plan’, the LUTF wants alienation among the people of all three regions to end, he said, adding ‘the Government should ensure equitable development opportunities in all three regions and address genuine grievances of the people’. Blasting the National Conference, Rigzin said the erstwhile ruling party did all but short of strangulating the Ladakhis physically during its 55 years rule in the State particularly during its last six years of governance. 'It (the National Conference) made all efforts to sabotage the working of LAHDC by rendering it ineffective but it had to bow before pressure of the Ladakhis', he asserted but expressed satisfaction that 'people of Ladakh saw through game of the NC and gave 21 out of 25 seats in LAHDC to us'. Saying that a number of powers had been vested with the LAHDC when it was established under a Union Home Ministry decision in 1994, Nawang lamented that the outgoing National Conference Government didn’t make the necessary rules to implement these powers. Instead, he regretted, the Government tried to erode the LAHDC’s sanctity by making attempts to curtail it powers. 'NC Government’s ‘wrong doings’ were one among the several reasons which prompting the Ladakhis to float LUTF', he said.