J&K polls: Congress, BJP face-to-face in Leh

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Srinagar, Nov 19: Buddhist-majority Leh Assembly seat will witness straight fight between Congress and BJP as regional parties-- NC and PDP-- have chosen not to field candidates for the seat which goes to polls in the first phase of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections.

While 14 other constituencies going to polls in the first phase are witnessing multi-cornered contest, it is a face-off between Congress and BJP in Leh, where polling will be held on November 25.

J&K polls: Cong, BJP face-to-face in Leh
Senior leaders and spokesmen of both the regional parties, PDP and NC, were not available to comment on the issue of not fielding candidates on the seat.

However, some leaders from both the NC and PDP admitted that regional issues of the two parties did not cut ice with the "Unionist majority" of Leh.

"Our main plank is self rule for Jammu and Kashmir but over the years, the Buddhist majority of Leh has been striving for a Union Territory status. Fielding a candidate could have led to tension in the Constituency post polls," a PDP leader, who wished anonymity, said.

JK Housing and Urban Development minister and Congress candidate, Nawang Rigzin Jora, is seeking a third consecutive term from Leh seat.

Jora's is facing BJP's Chering Dorjay. The incumbent Congress MLA will be banking on his performance in the past 12 years as the representative of the country's one of the largest Assembly constituencies in terms of area.

While Dorjay, a former Congressman who switched to BJP, will be hoping that the voting pattern of the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year is repeated.

Thupstan Chewwang was the first BJP candidate to win the Ladakh Lok Sabha seat and political observers attributed the success mainly to top party leaders campaigning in the cold desert region of the state.

In 2002 Assembly polls, Jora was elected unopposed when the demand for creating a Union Territory for Ladakh region was at its peak. In 2008, Jora was up against Chewwang, who contested as an Independent then, and three other candidates were also in the fray.

The winner, Jora, bagged 50.50 per cent of the total votes polled while Chewwang got 46.45 per cent. Both the candidates for this year's poll in Leh are businessmen -- Jora is a hotelier and Dorjay owns a dairy.

Both of them are graduates, although Jora has mentioned in the affidavit that he is "literate -- can read and write".

PTI 

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