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PM or HM to campaign in Leh; Rajnath will address the gathering on May 12, Rijiju on May 7 and 8

Sajjad withdraws, Jan is now the only candidate from Kargil
*Sr leaders of Cong look for Namgayal

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, May 5: In a swift turn of events, noted leader Sajjad Kargili, a representative of Islamia School Kargil (ISK), announced his withdrawal from the fray for the Ladakh Lok Sabha seat, leaving only one candidate , Haji Haneefa Jan, District President of the National Conference. has filed nomination papers as an independent candidate, contesting from Kargil district, while two other nominees in the race are from Leh, including Tashi Gyalson (BJP) and Tsering Namgayal (Congress).
Leh district is dominated by Buddhists and Kargil by Shia Muslims.
A total of five candidates were left in the fray yesterday after examining the nomination papers. Sajjad Kargili and Kacho Mohammad Feroz, an executive councilor in the Kargil Hill Development Council, who have filed papers as candidates for Haneefa Jan, will withdraw from the race tomorrow on the last date of withdrawal of nominations, leaving only three candidates in remain in the fray, including BJP’s Gyalson, Namgayal (Congress) and Haneefa Jan, an independent, who is backed by NC and Congress units from Kargil, besides other religious and social organizations in the district.

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BJP and Congress candidates are from Leh district while the lone Independent is from Kargil district.
Political observers believe that a division of votes in Leh between BJP and Congress will benefit Haneefa Jan, who will be the only candidate from Kargil district.
Sajjad Kargili confirmed to Excelsior that he has withdrawn from the Ladakh parliamentary constituency election and will formally withdraw the nomination papers tomorrow.
“I represent Islamia School Kargil. In the interest of unity, it has been decided that there will be only one candidate from Kargil district. I will stand down and extend full support to Haneefa Jan,” Kargili said.
Meanwhile, the BJP, which won the Ladakh seat in 2014 and 2019, unfazed by its unity in Kargil, has decided to intensify the campaign to ensure the victory of its candidate Tashi Gyalson, incumbent chairman and CEC of the Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council, to assure.
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh is expected to address a rally in Leh on May 12, while Union Minister Kiren Rijiju will camp in Ladakh for two days on May 7 and 8 and address a series of rallies in support of the BJP candidate.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also expected to hold a meeting in Leh but the date is yet to be finalized. In case Modi’s election manifesto is hectic, Union Home Minister Amit Shah will address a rally in Leh, party leaders said.
The Congress is also expected to send its senior leaders to Ladakh to campaign in support of party candidate Tsering Namgayal, Leader of Opposition (LOP) in Leh Hill Council.
However, it remains to be seen whether senior National Conference leaders Dr Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah will come out in favor of Haneefa Jan or not. Though Jan is district president of National Conference and was also chairman-cum-CEC of Kargil Hill Council, he is contesting election as an independent candidate with the support of NC and Congress units of Kargil, besides social and religious bodies.
As per the INDIA block deal, the seat of Ladakh had gone to Congress along with Jammu and Udhampur, while NC is contesting all three seats from Kashmir.
The Ladakh seat will go to polls in the fifth phase on May 20.