With 15 out of 26 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) triumphed in elections to the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) in Leh. The election results were declared on October 26. In the last elections contested in 2015, BJP got 18 seats.
Last year, Ladakh was formed as an Union Territory after the bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. These were the first elections organized after Ladakh became a UT.
BJP was in direct competition with Congress in the elections which got nine seats. Two seats went to independent candidates. Regional parties like People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and National Conference (NC) had no luck. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which contested these elections for the first time couldn’t score anything.
When the Union government announced abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A then Ladakh also lost the special protections promised under these articles. Article 35A had promised that government jobs and land ownership rights were reserved for the native population.
Political leaders in Leh have demanded to implement Schedule 6 of the Indian Constitution which provides some extra rights for tribal areas. Over 97% of the Ladakh’s population belongs to tribal areas.
Days after the elections were announced, social, religious and political parties of the region including the local BJP unit had announced a poll boycott until Sixth Schedule was not implemented. Centre’s top leaders visited Ladakh to meet the people. On September 27, leaders from Ladakh met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi. The boycott was called off then.
It was reported that the central government assured them it was open to discuss the sixth schedule. The boycott was temporarily called off with a warning that demands for the sixth schedule will be raised again after 15 days of the results.
In this election, urban voters and the youth didn’t seem very satisfied with the BJP promises. Historically, people of Ladakh seem to favour the party which is in the central government as they believe that a common government will be beneficial for the people. In the elections contested in 2010, Congress won 22 seats while the BJP four.