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Why is Ladakh seat important for BJP?

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New Delhi, May 04: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made history in strategically important Ladakh parliamentary seat in 2014 general elections by winning it for the first time.

Representational Image

In 2014, BJP candidate Thupstan Chhewang had defeated an Independent Ghulam Raza by a margin of only 36 votes. Chhewang had also won the seat in 2004 as an Independent. However, Chhewang had resigned from both the BJP and the Parliament last year.

The BJP is also worried because it performed very poorly in the Kargil and Leh civic body elections in October 2018 when it failed to win even a single seat.

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The BJP had promised in 2014 to grant Ladakh the status of Union Territory, but didn't fulfil it. It's notable that the demand of UT status to Ladakh predates the Telangana movement.

After sensing the discontent in Ladakh and its repercussions on the electoral politics, the Narendra Modi government made Ladakh a separate Division in February with Leh as its headquarters.

The leaders from Kargil district opposed the decision of Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik tooth and nail.

Muslim-majority Kargil fears that the decision to make Buddhist-majority Leh the seat of governance for the new division would give the Buddhists the upper hand in administration.

Kargil continues to oppose the Buddhist demand for Union territory status for Ladakh.

According to 2011 census, Ladakh's population is 2.73 lakh, including 1.26 lakh Muslims, 1.07 lakh Buddhists and 0.36 lakh Hindus, mostly soldiers and their families from other states.

According to the sources, Ladakh is more than a parliamentary seat for the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

"The saffron leadership wants to have political control over Ladakh because of its strategic importance as well as to counter alleged Love Jihad, " says a source.

It is notable that Ladakh Buddhist Association's president PT Kunzang in an interview to a news portal had claimed that a systematic Love Jihad is being carried out in Ladakh to change the religious data of the area.

He had said in 2017 that around 97 Buddhist girls have been converted to Islam in the last four decades.

Reports suggest that as many as 45 Buddhist girls married Muslim men in Ladakh since 2003.

The BJP hopes that making of Leh as headquarters of Ladakh division will help its candidate in the upcoming polls.

BJP has fielded 33-year-old Jamying Tsering Namgayal, who is the current Chief Executive Councillor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh.

Congress candidate Rigzin Spalbar is the former Chief Executive Councillor of LAHDC, Leh.

The two main regional political parties, National Conference and People's Democratic Party, did not field their candidates and decided to extend support to Independent Sajad Kargili, who also enjoys the support of the influential Islamic School, Kargil.

Another Independent Asghar Ali Karbali, a former Congress party lawmaker, has also served twice as the CEC of LAHDC, Kargil.

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