Ladakh Too Defers Municipal, Panchayat Polls Till Next Summer

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A file photo of voters queuing up for casting votes in the recently Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council elections. Photo: Open Source

JAMMU, Nov 5: The Union Territory of Ladakh administration has also decided to postpone elections to the Leh and Kargil Municipal Committees till next summer after the completion of fresh delimitation process, which will entail increase in the number of wards from 13 to 17.

The decision to this effect has been taken in view of the decision to go in for delimitation process and revision of the electoral rolls in the coming weeks. The special electoral rolls revision has been ordered by the administration. Official announcement was made on Saturday, November 04, 2023.

The term of both the Local Bodies will expire in the next few weeks in the absence of elections which will now be held next summer.

“Five-year term of Municipalities and Panchayats in the UT will expire in next few weeks as elections were held in October-December 2018 when Ladakh was part of erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir,” the official announcement said.

The official announcement said that terms of Leh and Kargil Municipalities, the only two Urban Local Bodies in the Union Territory of Ladakh, will end this month followed by 193 Panchayats in Ladakh region. There are 98 Panchayats in Kargil and 95 in Leh districts respectively.

The elections for the two bodies were due in October-November this year but were deferred due to Kargil Hill Development Council polls, which have been followed by delimitation exercise for Municipalities and onset of winter season.

The Ladakh UT Administration has already ordered delimitation exercise for Leh and Kargil Municipalities and number of their Wards is expected to go up from 13 to 17 each.

“Number of Wards are likely to be increased as more population has come up in the surrounding areas of both Leh and Kargil Municipalities from rural areas,” the official announcement said, adding that for increasing number of the Wards a high-level committee has already been set up by the UT administration.

Officials said delimitation of Panchayat segment may also be ordered by the UT administration. This may also result in increase in number of Panchayats in the Union Territory of Ladakh.

The delimitation exercise will lead to delay in conduct of Municipal and Panchayat elections in Ladakh, like the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Harsh winter will set in Ladakh in the next few days and weather generally opens up in April when Parliamentary elections are due. As per the official announcement, Municipal and Panchayat elections in Ladakh will either be held with Lok Sabha polls or in June-July.

It has already been reported that terms of all Urban Local Bodies will (ULBs) expire this year while that of Panchayats will end on January 9, 2024. Elections to these two bodies were delayed in Jammu and Kashmir due to grant of reservation to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and rectifying discrimination in electorates of different wards to Municipal bodies.

Number of Municipalities in Ladakh is confined to two as Leh and Kargil districts have Autonomous Hill Development Councils with 30 seats each, 26 of which are elected and four nominated.

Ladakh has only one Lok Sabha seat which is represented by the BJP presently.

In the recently concluded Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil elections, NC won 12 seats followed by Congress 10, BJP and Independents two each. The UT of Ladakh administration is yet to nominate four Councilors to the Hill Council which will take the BJP strength to six.

NC and Congress had entered into post-poll alliance before the elections though they contested the polls against each other on most of the seats.