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Curtains close on third Thromde elections

The third thromde elections for Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Gelephu saw only one incumbent getting re-elected for the coveted post of Thrompon (or Mayor)

By Phurpa Wangmo

The curtains have fallen on the third Thromde elections for the three thromdes of Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Gelephu.

While voters of Phuentsholing Thromde chose to re-elect their incumbent mayor, the other two municipalities of Thimphu and Gelephu voted for change as new Thrompons were elected.

The Election Commission of Bhutan said that out of the total of 35 (26 male and 9 female) candidates who contested the elections, a total of 20 (16 male and 4 female) were successfully elected.

ECB recorded a total registered voter of 10,564 individuals, 4,968 male & 5,596 female), in the three thromdes while the total number of votes cast stood at 6,281 (2,902 male & 3,379 female) recording a voter turnout 59.46%.

Of the total votes cast 4,428 (1,985 male & 2,443 female) chose to vote through EVM while 1,853 individuals (917 male & 936 female) had sent their votes through postal ballot.

While the overall voter turnout was recorded at just 59.46 percent it is a huge leap as the voter turnout in 2016 for the second thromde elections was just a mere 37.25 percent.

Thimphu chooses a new mayor

Contrary to what most believed that it is going to be an easy sail to victory for the incumbent candidate, former Thimphu Thrompon Kinlay Dorji lost to the former Deputy Chief Urban Planner, Ugyen Dorji in Thimphu Thromde by 62 votes.

Prior to the elections, there was speculation rife that the former Thrompon will have an edge over Thrompon elect Ugyen Dorji and Thrompon candidate Sonam Dorji since he was the lone candidate from the south and there were two candidates from the north, and that support from the north will be split between the two candidates, while the majority from the south will support the former Thrompon.

Securing 1,776 votes, the new thrompon-elect Ugyen Dorji cruised to victory after beating the former thrompon Kinlay Dorjee who served two consecutive terms. Incumbent Kinlay Dorjee had secured 1,714 votes while the other candidate, Sonam Dorji, had secured only 920 votes.

Prior to contesting for the post of Thrompon, the new thrompon-elect Ugyen Dorji served as deputy chief urban planner with the Thimphu Thromde. 

On hearing the news Ugyen Dorji said he would like to sincerely thank each and every voter for vouching their confidence in him as their representative to take Thimphu, our capital city, from Good to Great.

โ€œI am deeply touched and re-energised. Going forward, I pray that you continue to help each one of us in making Thimphu an envy of the world,โ€ Ugyen Dorji said.

Phuentsholing opts for old guard

With 336 votes cast in his favour, Phuentshogling Thromde voters re-elected incumbent Thrompon, Uttar Kumar Rai. The 39-year-old had won against his three other opponents. 

Most voters said they choose Uttar Kumar Rai as he had more experience and that he didnโ€™t get enough time to prove his worth as the mayor of the city due to the pandemic.

Voters said they re-elected him as he has been very helpful dad his win will give him the motivation to continue and carry out the ongoing developmental works which were hampered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The thrompon-elect Uttar Kumar Rai said his experience of serving in the first term added an advantage to win the election. He added he is well aware of peopleโ€™s problems as well as opportunities and that he can immediately resume his responsibility without having to waste my time familiarizing the system.

Among a host of other plans, Uttar Kumar Rai says the construction of direct access road from Rinchending to Pekarzhing, widening the four-lane road from Royal Bhutan Army junction to Rinchending, Omchhu riverfront development and construction of theme parks are some of his projects he will prioritize during his second term.

Uttar Kumar Rai was the lone candidate in 2016 and won the seat by nine YES votes. He was selected from Neydrag constituency during the Dhamngoi Zomdu earlier in March this year to recontest for the post of Thrompon.

The thrompon-elect also immediately plans to work on land pooling issues, water flagship projects, drainage and footpaths in the town among others and make Phuentshogling a clean, green and prosperous city.

Gelephu opts for change

Voters of Gelegphu Thromde voted Tshering Norbu over the former Thrompon, Tikaram Khafley. The new thrompon-elect, Tshering Norbu, secured 713 votes and won by 338 votes over his opponent who secured only 375 votes.

Many Gelephu residents said they voted for Tshering Norbu as his pledges and new ideas to provide better services. Some said his conviction to still keep in touch with the voter base despite losing in his earlier contests also put him in a good light to serve them better.

Tshering Norbu, a graduate from Sherubtse College, had pledged to resolve the green belt issue of the thromde that had deprived residents living in those places of equal access to basic facilities such as roads, street lights and drainage system which bode very well with the voters.

Many Gelephu residents said they wanted change as Gelephu had scope of becoming one of the biggest hubs in the southern belt which called for an equally capable mayor.

โ€œWe voted for him because we want changes and development. It is not like the previous Thrompon did not do anything, but this time we voted for a new face with new ideas,โ€ a resident of the thromde said, adding his background in IT will help the municipality to inculcate IT-related developments and reforms.

Tshering Norbu said he is thankful to the people for their support for providing him an opportunity and a blessing to contest in the election and serve his people.

โ€œI never lost hope when I didnโ€™t win in the past two elections. It in fact encouraged me to go and talk with the people and listen to their concerns because of which I won this time,โ€ Tshering Norbu said.

Tshering Norbru is originally from Khaling, Trashigang but resettled in Sarpang. He served as an IT officer in Zhemgang and in various other capacities in private companies. He has a Bachelorโ€™s Degree in Computer Science from Sherubtse College.

Voter turnout

The ECB recorded voter turn out at 59.46 per cent, which is an increase of more than 22 per cent compared to the last Thromde elections. In 2016, the voter turn out was just 37.25 per cent.

The election which was held on 28 April saw a total registered voters of over 10,500 in three thromdes while more than 6,200 voted in this election.

Meanwhile, the post of Thromde Tshogpa of Motithang constituency under Thimphu Thromde and Trashiling constituency under Gelegphug Thromde will remain vacant. The aspiring candidates for these two constituencies were disqualified by the commission after it found they were registered as members of the political parties.

The elections for the Samdrup Jongkhar thromde are due in September or October as the first election in the thromde was delayed.

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