Friday, June 14, 2024

Independent candidate Mohmad Haneefa pushes past INC, BJP in Ladakh

In Ladakh, the political landscape is witnessing a significant shift as Haji Haneefa, an independent candidate formerly affiliated with the National Conference (NC), is leading in the electoral race.

Haneefa’s departure from the NC, along with the entire Kargil unit, was a strategic move that has resonated with the electorate. Despite running as an independent, he is believed to be supported by the NC to some extent, leveraging his long-standing affiliations and support base within the party.

In March of this year, thousands of Ladakh residents braved sub-zero temperatures to protest, highlighting significant local dissatisfaction and unrest. Back in 2019, the government addressed a long-standing demand by creating a separate region distinct from Kashmir. However, starting in 2020, the people have repeatedly demonstrated, alleging that the government has reneged on its promises and betrayed their trust.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government abrogated Article 370 in 2019, which accorded special status to the former state of Jammu and Kashmir and provided it with significant autonomy.

The state was then divided into two union territories: Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir. Since the revocation of Article 370 and the subsequent administrative changes, the people of Ladakh have felt increasingly marginalized and ignored.

Their grievances culminated in the formation of the Leh Apex Body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) in 2020, uniting the districts of Kargil and Leh to collectively address local concerns. These civil society groups have been at the forefront of organizing massive rallies and protests against the government, demanding that the promises made during the reorganization be fulfilled.

This backdrop of continuous protests and civil unrest has significantly influenced the political environment in Ladakh. Haji Haneefa’s independent candidacy can be seen as a direct response to these widespread sentiments of disenchantment. By positioning himself as a local champion against perceived external influences, Haneefa has tapped into the collective desire for more effective representation and self-governance.

His campaign has gained traction not only because of his political acumen but also due to the resonant themes of autonomy and regional pride, making him a prominent figure in Ladakh’s evolving political narrative.

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