Bharatiya Janata Party MP Thupstan Chhewang resigned as the Lok Sabha member on November 15, 2018, and also from the party, apparently because he couldn’t see his cherished “Union Territory status to Ladakh” dream coming true. The decision to resign by the 71-year-old politician, who was a two-time MP, rattled the BJP leadership and made it rethink its strategy for this cold desert seat, which the party had won for the first time in 2014.
Thuptsan, who is also a Buddhist leader, won the seat for the BJP and he, along with other leaders, had been steadfastly seeking the UT status for Ladakh.
During the election campaign, he had promised voters that he will get it done during his term. Leaders close to the former MP say his failure to fulfil his promise was the main reason why Chhewang quit.
His resignation pressed the panic button within the BJP top brass and with an eye on the next elections, the divisional status was granted to Ladakh, initially to be headquartered at Leh. However, after protests from people in the Kargil region, which could have been snowballed into a major controversy, the government was forced to keep the headquarters of the divisional offices at Kargil for six months.
Local BJP leaders say that Chhewang’s resignation acted as a catalyst in bagging the divisional status to Leh. The BJP leaders, also claim that Chhewang is not going to join any other party but had resigned to pursue spiritualism.
It’s not clear whether the BJP will try to woo back Chhewang. However, there are chances that somebody else could be BJP candidate from Ladakh — including the current chief executive councillor of Leh Hill Developmental Council Jamyang Tsering Namgyal.
After submitting his resignation, Chhewang has gone incommunicado and leaders close to him say that he is currently undergoing meditation somewhere in north India.
Chering Dorjey, a member of legislative council and BJP incharge for Ladakh, said the former MP had managed to get several big projects for Ladakh, including recently announced projects worth Rs 8,000 crore announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Ladakh visit.
“The credit will go to BJP leadership and Chhewang for that.” He said, besides the 220KV transmission line, the Zojilla tunnel and also the division status to Ladakh are some big works for which Chhewang had played a vital role. Even his resignation has definitely put pressure on the Centre and projects got sanctioned.”
Namgyal said Chhewang contributed greatly for the development of different parts of Ladakh. “His tenure was successful as he spent his MP funds on schools, hospitals, ambulances and other welfare schemes both in Leh and Kargil regions.”
Ghulam Reza Khan, former assembly member from Zanskar and Congress leader who lost by 36 votes to Chhewang in the last Lok Sabha elections, said projects which the BJP and its leaders were claiming to be their achievement got sanctioned during the UPA regime. “Whether it’s transmission line, Zojilla tunnel or any other big project, all were sanctioned during the UPA government. Chhewang resigned because he knew he could not face the people of Ladakh since he could not get the Union Territory status to his constituency. He even opposed the divisional status given to Leh and Kargil as he wanted the Union Territory status and was also opposing Zojilla tunnel,” he said.
Reza gave credit of granting separate divisional status to Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik.
Mar 20, 2019 14:38 IST