Cong, NC Lock Horns Over LAHDC Kargil Formation

Cong, NC Lock Horns Over LAHDC Kargil Formation

5 September 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Neeraj Rohmetra

Jammu: A piquant situation has cropped up in the State with both the coalition partners - Congress and National Conference (NC) locking horns over the formation of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Kargil. Ministers and politicians affiliated with both political parties were engaged in hectic parleys at different level to secure majority in the Hill Council, which is being seen by many as a pre-cursor to the forthcoming Assembly elections. The fast changing political situation in the State took a new turn today after Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah nominated four members to the Hill Council, thereby tilting the balance clearly in favour of National Conference. Reliable sources said even as the Congress Ministers and leaders were critical of the decision of National Conference (NC) leadership over the nomination, the latter’s political leadership has described the decision as part of an understanding between the two coalition partners. “The issue pertaining to nominated Councillors had been discussed in the Coordination Committee during the formation of LAHDC, Leh. While the four nominated Councillors in the LAHDC, Leh belonged to Congress party, it was mutually decided that the four nominated members in the Kargil Council would belong to National Conference”, said a senior NC leader. Resent was brewing in Congress Camp over the issue of nomination and some Congress Ministers vowed to take up the issue with the Chief Minister, to press for withdrawal of nominated candidates. “However, there was little possibility of the withdrawal”, sources asserted. Four Councillors, who have been nominated to the LAHDC Kargil, included former Executive Councillors Punchok Tashi (resident of Padum, Zanskar), Razia Banoo (resident of Kharbu, Drass), Miskeen Tsering (resident of Garkone tribal area in Kargil) and Fatima Banoo (resident of Sapi, Kargil). Ladakh Affairs Department has issued notification vide No: LA(A) 28-2008 to Deputy Commissioner Kargil for necessary action. Sources affirmed that the balance has actually tilted in favour of the National Conference with the nomination of these four members. Political experts opined that four nominated members would also vote as and when the Ladakh Affairs Department announces the date for election of Chairman. “There is nothing in the rule book that bars the nominated members from voting during the election process”, sources asserted. Citing example, sources said, “during the regime of PDP-Congress coalition headed by Mufti Mohammad Syed, the State Government in the year 2004 had toppled the then LAHDC, Kargil Chairman Qamar Ali Akhoon from the office while supporting a no-confidence vote against him. The nominated legislators had played a pivotal role at that stage to secure the majority against Akhoon and voted against him. Thereafter, Asgar Ali Karbalaie was elected as Chairman-cum-Chief Executive Councillor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil with the support of 16 Councillors. The move was highly resented by National Conference leadership and its delegation headed by the then Leader of Opposition, Abdul Rahim Rather had also met the then Governor while terming the move as ‘undemocratic’. The council, it is pertinent to mention, has 26 elected members. Besides, the constitution provides for nomination of four members. “The Government may nominate not more than four persons amongst the principal religious minorities and women in the district to be member of the council”, reads sub-Section 2 of Section 4 of Chapter II of constitution of Autonomous Hill Development Council. Sticking to these norms, the State Government today has nominated two women and two Buddhists to the LAHDC, Kargil. Both National Conference and Congress are locked in a tight contest for the formation of the LAHDC, Kargil. While sitting Chief Executive Councillor Kachoo Ahmad Ali Khan is the NC - alliance candidate for the post of Chairman, Congress has proposed the name of former CEC, Asgar Ali Karbalaie. Kachoo has won as Independent candidate with support of NC from Yourbaltok seat with impressive margins while Karbalaie won on Congress mandate from Pashkum. Of 26 elected seats in LAHDC Kargil, election was held for 24 seats on August 22 as two Independent candidates had already been elected unopposed. Out of these 24 seats, Congress won 10 seats and National Conference 8. Six Independent candidates emerged victorious, three of whom had been supported by National Conference and one by the Congress. Out of two Independent candidates elected unopposed earlier, one of them was supported by NC. The final tally of NC stood at 12 (eight candidates who won on party mandate and four Independents, who captured the seats with the party support, three of them by elections and one uncontested) while the tally of Congress stood at 11 (10 of its own plus one Independent supported by the party). Three neutral Independents were elected to the Council (two by election while another had already been declared winner as uncontested).