Kargil (Ladakh), Oct 8: Counting of votes began on Sunday morning here for the fifth Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC)-Kargil election, officials said.
The election on October 4, which saw a triangular contest among the National Conference, Congress and the BJP in most of the 26 seats, is the first key poll in Kargil after the abrogation of Article 370 and the creation of Ladakh union territory which was done by the Centre on August 5, 2019.
The election recorded a polling of 77.61 per cent as out of the total 95,388 voters, 74,026 exercised their right of franchise.
The officials said the counting started at 8 am and all arrangements were in place for the smooth conduct of the counting and the declaration of the results.
Stringent security arrangements have been put in place at and around the Government Polytechnic College here where the counting of the votes is being held, the officials added.
The existing council headed by NC's Feroz Ahmad Khan completed its five-year term on October 1. The new council will be in place before October 11.
The council has 30 seats out of which elections were held on 26 seats, while four councillors with voting rights are nominated by the administration.
The NC and Congress had announced a pre-poll alliance but have put up 17 and 22 candidates, respectively. Both parties said the arrangement was restricted to areas where there was a tough contest with the BJP.
The BJP, which won one seat in the last election and later took its tally to three with the joining of two PDP councillors, had fielded 17 candidates this time. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) tried its luck from four seats while 25 independents were also in the fray.
Electronic voting machines (EVMs) were used for the first time for the council elections which took place at 278 polling stations across the district.
The elections to LAHDC-Kargil was rescheduled from September 10 to October 4 on the directions of the Supreme Court which took serious note of the UT administration denying the “plough” symbol to NC candidates.
Holding that the NC was entitled to its symbol, the Supreme Court dismissed the Ladakh administration's plea on the issue and also imposed a cost of Rs one lakh on it.
Though the extended campaigning in the district remained a low-key affair, NC vice president and former chief minister of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah addressed two election rallies at Drass and Kargil. (Agencies)