Leh: Allaying Ladakhis’ fear of losing jobs and land, Union minister Anurag Thakur on Wednesday asserted that the Centre would provide more than what was there in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, a demand which had gained momentum after the region was declared a separate Union territory last year.
The Minister of State for Finance was in Leh to kick-start the official campaign of the BJP for the upcoming polls to the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh – the first democratic exercise in the Union territory.
The 26 seats of LAHDC Leh are going to polls on October 22 and is likely to witness a keen battle between the BJP, Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which is trying its luck for the first time in the region.
None of the regional parties, including the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has jumped into the fray.
“You need not have even one per cent concern (about protection of land and jobs) you will get more than what is there in the sixth schedule under the leadership of Modi. Your land, culture, ethnic values and traditions will all get protected under our government,” Thakur told reporters here.
The sixth schedule seeks to safeguard the rights of tribal population through the formation of Autonomous District Councils (ADC).
Responding to a question on protection of Ladakhis’ land from outsiders, he said a deliberate campaign was launched to mislead the public and divert their attention from the Centre’s wholehearted measures to develop Ladakh on the modern lines with special focus on its economy.
“I am a fourth term MP from Himachal Pradesh and my father was a three-time MP and two-time chief minister. We are living in the land for generations, but we cannot buy land in tribal areas. The non-agriculturists cannot buy agricultural land in Himachal Pradesh because of Section 118 (of Himachal Pradesh Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972) which protects the land holding for the locals and we do not have a sixth schedule in force there,” he said.
The recently floated Peoples Movement for Sixth Schedule for Ladakh’, a powerful platform having representatives from various political, religious and social organisations, had last month withdrawn its poll boycott call after meeting Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and highlighted its various demands including protection of land and jobs.
“Today is a great day for Indian history as our prime minister completed 20 years of public service which is full of achievements and commitment to take India to the new heights of progress PM Modi has fulfilled your long cherished dream of getting Union territory (UT) status and opening the gates for massive development of the region,” Thakur underlined.
Seeking votes for the party candidates, he said it was now the turn of the people of Leh to elect BJP representatives so that Modi at the Centre and the party’s local representatives join hands to achieve all-round development of the region.
When you vote BJP leaders to power in LAHDC, no power on the earth can stop the development of Ladakh because there will be better coordination and understanding between New Delhi and Ladakh, he added.
On being asked about certain party workers leaving BJP ahead of the elections, Ladakh BJP MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, who was also present at the press conference, said there was no rebellion but some people have left because they were denied the mandate by the party.
This house belongs to them and after election they will return to the party fold, he said, adding that the mandate was on the basis of inputs from the ground level.
On LAHDC, Leh chairman reportedly staging a dharna in front of Lt Governor R K Mathur inside the Raj Bhavan, the MP said it was heartening to note that he took the step for the people of Ladakh.
The council Act remained unchanged even after the UT status as not a single word was deleted. He (LAHDC, Leh chairman) staged a sit-in because our people, including students, were stranded outside Ladakh due to COVID-19 and he wanted them back as soon as possible, Namgyal said. PTI