The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ladakh aspirant unopposed

Srinagar, Aug. 30: The impending Assembly elections in the Valley drew its first unopposed candidate from the cold desert region of Ladakh, reports our correspondent.

Sonam Wangchuk Narboo of the Union Territory Front is the only one to have filed his nomination from the Nobra constituency in Ladakh.

“He is the only candidate from Nobra who has filed his nomination papers. As such, he becomes the first candidate who is going to be elected unopposed,” said an officer in Leh. “However, this will become formal once the scrutiny of the nomination papers is conducted.”

The front was floated recently by the Ladakh Buddhist Association to press for their demand for Union Territory status to the region.

In another significant move, the Muslim Coordination Committee in Leh decided in a meeting on Thursday not to field any candidate against Nawang Rigzin, who is supported by the front. Instead, the committee’s members determined that Ahmadullah Azad, the only Muslim candidate from Leh, would withdraw his nomination.

They claimed “it was being done for the unity of Ladakh and to maintain communal harmony in the region”.

These unexpected manoeuvres have unnerved the party. Despite its best efforts, it could not field candidates in the two constituencies of Leh and is facing stiff opposition from the Muslims of Kargil who are backing an Independent.

Two local Muslim organisations — Imam Khomeini Trust and the Islamia School — have put up staunch resistance against the ruling party candidate, Qamar Ali Akhoon.

This, despite Kargil’s parliamentary seat being represented by National Conference MP Ghulam Hassan Khan. Till recently, the party enjoyed a firm grip over the two Assembly segments of Kargil also.

Amid the sudden winds of change sweeping Ladakh, the region’s traditional rivals — the Ladakh Buddhist Association and the Muslims — whose political interest have always been at crossroads, have virtually joined hands.

The Muslims of Kargil are considered to be politically more affiliated with the Valley.

“Only a mood change can lead to NC winning a seat in Kargil,” said a senior National Conference leader.

“We have lost both seats in Leh district and now we are trying to retain at least one seat in Kargil district. It is a difficult situation. I think we failed to do the required ground work well on time.” The party is scheduled to discuss the issue in its next meeting.

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