State Times News Jammu: Three independent candidates on Monday withdrew their nomination papers from the Ladakh parliamentary constituency, setting the stage for a quadrilateral contest, officials said. Ladakh is going to polls in the last phase of the five-phased elections in the state on May 6. The three independent candidates — Tsering Namgyal, Kacho Mohammad Feroz and Asgar Ali — withdrew on the last day of the withdrawal of nomination papers, leaving the BJP and the Congress candidates besides two independents in the fray, the officials said. Out of the six parliamentary constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh has the least number of polling stations, 559, for the lowest number of voters, 1,71,819. Leh and Kargil districts have 294 and 265 polling stations, respectively. The Ladakh Lok Sabha constituency is the largest in India in terms of the area though. Veteran leader Thupstan Chhewang had won the Ladakh parliamentary seat for the BJP for the first time in 2014 by a narrow margin of 36 votes by defeating Congress rebel candidate Ghulam Raza, but resigned from the primary membership of the party in November last year, claiming that all promises made by it sounded like an “empty rhetoric”. The BJP has fielded 33-year-old Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, currently chairman-cum-chief executive councillor (CEC) of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh. The Congress has given mandate to its 61-year-old veteran leader Rigzin Spalbar, a senior Buddhist leader who had served as CEC in the powerful LAHDC, Leh, twice. The presence of the Congress rebel leader and former MLA Asgar Ali Karbalai, who has the backing of influential Imam Khomeni Memorial Trust, Kargil, and journalist-turned-politician Sajjad Hussain has made the contest a tough battle. Hussain is enjoying the support of the arch rivals National Conference and PDP besides the influential religious organisation Islamia School Kargil. The officials said returning officer for the constituency, Avny Lavasa, on Monday allotted party symbols to the contesting candidates, in the presence of general observer, Alkesh Kumar Sharma. The second round randomisation of electronic voting machines (EVM) of Leh, Nubra, Kargil and Zanskar Assembly segments was also done in the presence of the observer and the representatives of the contesting candidates, they said. The officials said the printed reports of randomisation of EVMs of all the four assembly segments were provided to the representatives of contesting candidates.
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