The Hindu Editorial Vocabulary– October 11, 2023; Day 481 (2)
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Difficult Word/ PhraseContextual Sense
Heed Pay close attention to
Pull off Be successful; achieve a goal
Thumping Very large
Blunt to make less effective
Erstwhile Former 
Call for Express the need or desire for
Sparsely not dense or crowded
Rung a position or level within a group, organization, etc., that is higher or lower than others
Amalgam Combination 
Assuage gain the goodwill of

Local sentiments: On the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council-Kargil election

The Centre must heed (Pay close attention to) the political message of voters in Kargil

The National Conference (NC)-Congress alliance has pulled off (Be successful; achieve a goal) a thumping (Very large) victory in the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council-Kargil (LAHDC-K) election, blunting (to make less effective) the efforts put in by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over four years to expand its base in Kargil since it came under the direct rule of the Centre in 2019. This was the first statement made by the Kargil electorate after 2019. Ladakh, comprising Muslim-majority Kargil and Buddhist-majority Leh districts, was granted Union Territory (UT) status, as the Centre decided to end the special constitutional position of the erstwhile (Former) State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and split it into two UTs on August 5, 2019. The BJP had won the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council-Leh elections, in 2020. Parties in J&K have called for (Express the need or desire for) early elections in the UT too. In Kargil, the NC won 12 seats and the Congress 10, in the 26-member council while the BJP had to be content with two. The election saw a 77.61% turnout, with a significant section of the migrant local population who worked and studied in parts of the country returning to cast their ballot. It is a reflection of how seriously these polls were viewed by the local electorate. Kargil has a total of 74,026 registered voters, spread sparsely (not dense or crowded) in the mountains.

In the last four years, Buddhists and Shia Muslims have jointly protested for special status for Ladakh under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to protect land, culture, jobs, languages, and environment. Demands for reunification with J&K or full statehood for Ladakh persist. The BJP had hoped to widen its base in Kargil on the basis of its development initiatives, especially the expansion of road works, new educational institutes and reserving lower-rung (a position or level within a group, organization, etc., that is higher or lower than others) jobs only for locals. The NC saw these elections as a referendum on the 2019 reorganisation of J&K. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who toured Ladakh on a bike for over a week in August this year, became the first senior leader from the party to throw his weight behind the demands of the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), an amalgam (Combination) of various socio-political-religious groups, for special constitutional guarantees on land and jobs and a separate Lok Sabha seat for Kargil district. At present, Leh and Kargil together form one Lok Sabha seat. The larger message sent by the voters in Kargil to the BJP is that the final status of Ladakh remains an emotive issue. Also, the development push without special protections and constitutional recognition and an elected Assembly may not assuage (gain the goodwill of) the sentiments of locals in the region.

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