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Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi Visits Ladakh to Spend Time with Youth Ahead of Local Body Polls

Anees Zargar |
Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council in Kargil slated for September 10; First such visit of leader after abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi being welcomed upon his arrival at Leh airport on Thursday. (PTI)

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi being welcomed upon his arrival at Leh airport on Thursday. Image Courtesy: PTI

Srinagar: Top Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday arrived in the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh, where he will be staying for several days ahead of the local body polls in the region.

According to reports, Gandhi arrived at the Leh airport at around 1 pm, where scores of his supporters and party workers welcomed him in traditional and ethnic Ladakhi wear. Many of his supporters had also gathered, according to eye-witnesses, along the route on which Gandhi was scheduled to travel.

A party worker said that Gandhi stayed inside the accommodation and will be participating in several programs over the next days, during which he is expected to interact with the local youth. He will also be visiting the Kargil division. 

The Congress leader’s visit comes ahead of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) in Kargil. The LAHDC-K polls in the UT have been slated for September 10, and the counting of votes will take place four days later. 

According to a notification issued by the election department on August 5, the election to 26 seats of the 30-member LAHDC, Kargil, is scheduled for September 10.

This is the first such visit of the leader in the UT in the past few years, especially after the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35 A, following which the region was downsized into two UTs.

In January this year, Rahul visited Jammu and Srinagar during the flagship Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY). He also visited the Valley of Kashmir during a personal visit in February earlier this year.

Leh, the largest district in the country in terms of area, has emerged as one of the key political landscapes, especially since the locals have been demanding constitutional safeguards along the lines of the 6th Schedule. The locals have formed the Leh Apex Body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), representing numerous social, political and religious bodies from Leh and Kargil divisions that have led several protests in the UT and in the national capital. 

Pertinently, the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC) will be fighting the forthcoming LAHDC Kargil elections using the Hal or Plough as their symbol after many had raised objections that it is not a recognised State political party in the UT of Ladakh. The move was allowed after a division bench ruled against an appeal against the party. 

Meanwhile, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in Ladakh expelled its state vice-president Nazir Ahmad from primary membership after his son was accused of eloping with a Buddhist woman and later married her, reportedly. 

“The incident is deemed unacceptable by all religious communities in Ladakh, as it jeopardises communal harmony and unity among the people of this region,” a statement issued by the party’s State president Phunchok Stanzin said. 

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