Ladakh: Why NC Lost its traditional stronghold?
Sajjad Hussain is a Kargil-based journalist. He can be contacted at skargili[at]gmail.com.
Since decades National conference was known as the only party having a strong hold in Kargil, capable of defeating any opposition. But when Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Kargil elections result came out, just a few days back, the party seemed to have lost that distinction. How did it happen? Has National Conference been rejected by the people?
The reshuffle in the cabinet in which the then minister of CA&PD, Qamar Ali Akhone, was thrown out resulted in the protest demonstration held in Kargil by NC workers against its own high command; that was the first spark. Some days back, during the reshuffle Omar Abdullah along with PCC leader Saifuddin Soz and Qammar Ali Akhone visited Kargil and inaugurated Mantra Airways officially at Kargil airport. In that program MP Ladakh Gh Hassan Khan, himself a member of NC, and father of MLA Zanskar Feroze Khan, addressed the gathering and demanded that Kargil airport be named as Gh Nabi Azad’s Airpot. But the mantri’s mantra failed as there was no service to the people soon after the official inauguration. Pertinent to mention, there are two strong support bases of National Conference – the Islamia School Kargil, and Anjuman-e-Sahib Zaman Suru. These both are religious organization and have a strong hold over the people. Anjuman Sahib Zaman was considered pro Qammar Ali Akhone while Islamia School pro Gh Hassan Khan and his Son Feroze Khan. But in Islamia School there is also an aspiring candidates – Kacho Ahmed Ali Khan – he enjoys a good hold over a section. Interestingly the Suru Aga’s have relations with Kacho Ahmed Ali Khan and they mostly support him than Gh Hassan Khan.
Moreover, the cold war between Qammar Ali Akhone and Gh Hassan Khan led to the destruction of the party. The rumors that Omar Abdullah dropped Qammar Ali Akhone and Aga Syed Ruhullah from Budgam and deprived the Shia community of JK from representation presented NC as unmindful Shia sensitivity. During LAHDC election the NC leaders had no confidence on one another, therefore MP Ladakh himself came to contest the council election. People were fed up and irritated with the part war in which people directly were effected. Also interesting thing is that soon after the reshuffle of Cabinet NC, divided into the supporters of Khan and Akhone, left Kacho Ahmed Ali Khan who tried to sit between them. During those days the then counselors threatened to resign from the council if Qammar Ali Akhone was not taken back into cabinet. Later, whenthe Council elections were near, Qammar Ali Akhone was nominated as a personal advisor to CM, but it was too late. The problem inside Islamia School has also turned complex with the demise of renowned cleric Shiekh Ahmed Mohammadi who enjoyed a strong hold and good motivational power and was known as the king maker in Islamia school. It is interesting to note that in this election Islamia School become active and NC office was silently watching this, while on the other hand Congress office was active .
On 28 Aug, when results came out, people realized the need for change and vote for hope; Karbalai and his party, Congress got the majority; all credit goes to Karbalai who worked hard and did politics on straight forward style. He made no promises which he cannot fulfil. While on the other hand, most of the NC pockets become empty. Even in Qamar Ali Akhone’s home place, Sangra, NC candidate lost the election. Although NC made big promises but they failed to gain peoples confidence. Thus, I should say National Conference came to this pass because of internal bickering and they may lose more if this cold war doesn’t end. Unfortunately for NC, the most influential figures in its Kargil chapter still spread lies and irrational things among the people; after losing they are not ready to accept defeat which may be be cause for further damage to the credibility of the party.
In 2008-09 when NC and Islamia School (ISK) got majority, the then Chief Executive Counselor, Kacho Ahmed Khan clearly spoke in public that they will do the welfare work for those only who voted for them. Compared to this when Asgar Karbalai declared majority he said, “I would not be CEC of Congress and Imam Khomeini Trust (IKMT) only, rather I will try to work for all Kargilies, both Buddhists and Muslims’’. His speech and his way of politics struck well with the people, therefore he got few candidates from Islamia School also who joined Congress. In Suru valley which was known as strong hold of Qammar Ali Akhone and MLC Kargil Aga Syed Ahmed Rizvi is also divided; now Aga Syed Baqir who joined Congress in an emerging leader of the area and now there is also a neck to neck competition. Analysts say that NC will lose more if it continues the same politics.