Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Polls Conclude Smoothly In Kargil With 77% Voter Turnout

Vote counting is set for October 8, and the new council is expected to be in office by October 11. The previous council, led by Feroz Ahmad Khan of the National Conference, concluded its five-year term on October 1.

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More than 77 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the elections to Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Kargil, the first key poll in the region after abrogation of Article 370.

Polling for the elections which began at 8 am concluded at 4 pm smoothly,  officials said.

Voters across age groups turned out in large numbers to cast their vote in the 5th LAHDC elections in which 87 candidates are trying their luck for 26 seats of the 30-member hill council. Four councillors with voting rights are nominated by the administration.

The counting of votes is scheduled for October 8 and the new council will be in place before October 11. The existing council headed by National Conference’s Feroz Ahmad Khan completed its five-year term on October 1.

"There was polling of 77.61 per cent in the elections to LAHDC Kargil today. Barring a few incidents, polling concluded smoothly in all the constituencies," Deputy Commissioner, Kargil, Shrikant Balasaheb Suse told PTI.

As per the final figures, out of the total 95,388 voters, 74,026 exercised their right of franchise, the officials said.

The highest 90.07 per cent polling was recorded in Saliskut constituency while the lowest 69.03 per cent voting was recorded in Padum constituency, they said.

Queues were seen at polling stations since early morning with many elderly voters among the first to cast their vote.

"We have a total of 278 polling stations. Out of the 278 stations, 114 are hyper-sensitive and 99 are sensitive polling stations," Suse said earlier in the day. 

The National Conference and Congress have announced a pre-poll alliance but have put up 17 and 22 candidates respectively. Both parties said the arrangement has been restricted to areas where there is a tough contest with the BJP.

The BJP, which won one seat in the last election and later took its tally to three with the joining of two PDP councillors, has fielded 17 candidates this time.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is trying its luck from four seats while 25 independents are also in the fray, the officials said.

Electronic voting machines were used for the first time for the council elections.

The elections to LAHDC-Kargil was rescheduled from September 10 to October 4 on the directions of the Supreme Court which took serious note of the UT administration denying the “plough” symbol to National Conference candidates.

Holding that the National Conference is entitled to its symbol, the apex court dismissed the Ladakh administration’s plea on the issue and also imposed a cost of Rs 1 lakh on it.