Ladakh Votes: 67% Turnout in Historic Lok Sabha Election

Over 67 per cent polling was recorded in Ladakh's Lok Sabha election, with voters deciding among three candidates for the lone parliamentary seat in the Union territory. Enthusiastic participation marked this first major electoral event since Ladakh's 2019 elevation to Union territory status.

PTI | Leh | Updated: 20-05-2024 18:32 IST | Created: 20-05-2024 18:32 IST
Ladakh Votes: 67% Turnout in Historic Lok Sabha Election
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Over 67 per cent polling was recorded in Ladakh till 5 pm on Monday in the election to decide the fate of three candidates in the fray for the lone Lok Sabha seat in the Union territory, polling officials said.

Spread over an area of over 59,000 square kilometres -- around 40 times the size of Delhi -- Ladakh is the largest parliamentary constituency in India in terms of area and covers the two districts of Leh and Kargil.

The polling percentage recorded till 5 pm is 67.15, according to the Election Commission.

Lt Governor Brig (Dr) BD Mishra (retd) and his wife Neelam Mishra were among those who cast their votes at Skara Yokma in Leh.

''Voting is the festival of democracy. I am happy that we are celebrating it like that. Free and fair voting is an important step of democracy. I want Ladakh to always grow and our youth to get every good opportunity,'' Mishra told reporters after voting.

Well-known climate activist Sonam Wangchuk, who was in the news recently for leading a 66-day sit-in protest in Leh over demands such as safeguards under the 6th Schedule for Ladakh and statehood, cast his vote in Leh's Ulyaktopo village.

''I have just voted and I am happy. I am also feeling sad because many people don't exercise their right to vote. Many leaders sacrificed a lot for this country. People should celebrate the festival of democracy,'' Wangchuk told PTI after voting.

Ladakh Chief Electoral Officer Yetindra M Maralkar said they are expecting up to 75 per cent voting by the end of the day.

''We are witnessing enthusiasm among the voters and I think, polling percentage will also improve this time. It may go up to 75 per cent by the end of the day,'' Maralkar said.

Ladakh witnessed 71.05 per cent turnout in the 2019 general election.

There are three candidates in the fray for the Ladakh Lok Sabha seat. While there are two candidates from the Buddhist-dominated Leh -- the BJP's Tashi Gyalson and the Congress' Tsering Namgyal -- Independent candidate Mohammad Haneefa Jan is the lone candidate from the Shia Muslim-dominated Kargil region.

Haneefa, a former National Conference leader, quit the party along with its entire Kargil unit to contest as an Independent after the Congress fielded Namgyal as the INDIA bloc candidate.

The two districts, which came together over demands including 6th Schedule of the Constitution and statehood, appear divided over the polls with expectations of voting taking place on regional lines.

Observers here say the candidate from Kargil is likely to have an edge.

Of the total 1.84 lakh voters in Ladakh, 95,926 are in the Kargil district and 88,877 in Leh. There are 298 polling stations in Leh and 279 booths in Kargil.

This is the first major electoral battle in the region after it was carved out of Jammu and Kashmir and granted Union territory status in 2019.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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