Kargil Polls: Congress Bags 10, NC 8

Kargil Polls: Congress Bags 10, NC 8

28 August 2013
Greater Kashmir
Abid Bashir

Srinagar: The Congress on Wednesday emerged as single largest party in the crucial Kargil Autonomous Hill Development Council (KAHDC) polls by bagging 10 out of 26 seats while National Conference managed eight seats amid stiff competition. Eight seats went to independent candidates. Opposition Peoples Democratic Party and BJP failed to open their accounts. Although NC and Congress are running a coalition government in the state, they contested the KAHDC elections separately. The prominent faces, who emerged victorious, included Kargil MP Ghulam Hassan Khan who won with a margin of 808 votes while former Chief Executive Councilor of KAHDC Kachoo Ahmed Khan won with a margin of 727 votes. Congress’s face from Kargil, Asgar Karbalai bagged the seat with a margin of 543 votes. “Eight seats went to independent candidates three of them belong to Islamia School, an ally of NC,” senior NC leader and Minister for Science and Technology, Feroz Ahmed Khan told Greater Kashmir over phone from Kargil. He, however, said NC has literally taken the lead as three out of eight independent candidates are affiliated with Islamia School, which is an ally of NC. “So our figure will reach to 11,” he claimed. At least one lakh voters elected 26 councilors for the Hill Council, which is a “semi-autonomous government” with Chief Executive (CEC) heading a “Cabinet” of a group of executive Councilors. The CEC enjoys protocol of a minister while the Executive Councilors are entitled to the status of junior ministers. The common Councilors receive a monthly salary of Rs 30,000. Each elected Councilor is entitled for utilising constituency development fund while the Hill Council can execute work to the tune of Rs 7.5 crore without seeking Government approval. Islamia School and Imam Khomeni Memorial Trust, the two influential religious organizations played a key role in the elections. The former supported NC while the latter put its full weight behind Congress. The first Kargil Hill Council was ruled by IKMT but it was toppled in 2008 elections when Islamia School took the reins. Sources said after the election for 26 councilors, the government would nominate four members-two from the principle majority and two from women folk that would make the total strength of KAHDC to 30. “All 30 members would then elect Chief Executive Councilor (CEC) of the Hill Council,” sources said. The NC Minister Feroz Khan said there was a stiff competition between NC and Congress in the council elections this time around. “Despite that, NC managed a good lead,” he said. Khan, represents Zanskar constituency of Kargil district. The Hill Council elections are significant in the wake of upcoming Assembly and Parliament elections due in 2014. Kargil electorate will play a crucial role in electing MP from Ladakh besides two legislators from Kargil and Zanaskar. At present, three seats are represented by the NC. Interestingly, the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah while chairing the meeting of Ladakh and Kargil Hill Councils on July 16 this year, had agreed to grant a separate police range for Ladakh besides giving powers to both Councils for transfer of officers other than district officers. The government had also agreed to end the voting rights of four nominated members of the each council- Kargil and Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council. Pertinently, the KAHDC was formed in 2003 on the lines of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council.