The bye-election results might just be an indication that DNT is gradually emerging into a strong political entity albeit at the cost of DPT’s waning popularity
By Phurpa Wangmo
The results of the recent bye-elections in Monggar and Penagatshel could be a stark reminder of Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s (DNT) rising popularity, as it once again breached what was considered Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s (DPT) political strongholds.
Karma Lhamo of DNT has been elected as the representative from Monggar constituency while Karma Dorji got elected as the representative from Nganglam Demkhong of Pema Gatshel Dzongkhag at the bye-polls held on June 29 this week.
In the Nganglam by polls, many said the campaign pledges made by the DNT candidate-elect Karma Dorji of the ruling party was the decisive factor in breaking the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa stronghold in Nganglam, Pemagatshel.
The DNT candidate had campaigned on the note of having the advantage of representing the ruling party as, he claimed, would be very beneficial for the voters themselves as the ruling party candidate would have advantage over important policy matters.
In addition, many residents who voted for the DNT candidate said they chose him because he had also promised to construct a 50-bedded hospital in their community and also blacktop all the gewog centre (GC) and farm roads in the Drungkhag.
“Most of us supported the DNT candidate as he is representing the ruling government which would be advantageous for us in many ways. He could also speed up development works and voice our concerns as he would have more authority over the opposition candidate,” Tshering Dema, 38, of Menchu in Nganglam said.
However, voters from Nganglam town said since Karma Dorji’s priority was to construct a 50-bedded hospital in Nganglam and blacktop the gewog and farm roads, because of which he won, they also expect the candidate to fulfill all the pledges during his tenure.
Meanwhile, the winning candidate Karma Dorji said he would work hard to fulfill all the pledges he made, including the construction of the 50-bedded hospital in Nganglam which, he said, will be his utmost priority.
Karma Dorji said with support assured from the government his pledges would be fulfilled 100 percent as his pledges were decided only after discussing with his party and party members.
Karma Dorji had secured 2,951 votes to DPT candidate Richen Pelzang’s 2,285 votes finally putting an end to DPT’s 13-year rule in the constituency.
Karma Dorji had secured 1,424 votes on postal ballots, 448 from mobile voting ballots, 144 mobile electoral machine voting (EVM) initiated in the bye-election for voters above the age of 65 years and those living with disabilities.
His contestant, DPT’s Rinchen Pelzang, secured 1,111 postal ballots, 320 ballots from mobile voting, 128 mobile EVM votes and 726 EVM votes from the 13 polling stations.
Of the 7,426 eligible registered voters in the demkhong, 2,535 voted through postal ballots, 768 through mobile voting ballots, 272 through the facility extended for elderly voters and voters with disabilities. On the poll day, despite heavy rains 1,661 turned up at the 13 polling stations to cast their ballot.
Elsewhere in the Mongar bye-polls, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s candidate Karma Lhamo won the bye-election in Mongar constituency with 4,149 against 2,035 of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s Dorji Youden.
Electio officials said that despite the busy paddy transplantation season, 55.8 percent of the voters voted as many voters showed up in large groups.
Karma Lhamo secured 1,703 postal ballots and 2,446 EVM votes while Dorji Youden could manage only 856 postal ballots and 1,179 EVM votes.
Voters said the DNT candidate’s pledge like blacktopping of the Kilikhar-Laptsa in Drepong gewog was a popular among voters of Mongar and Drepong gewogs and swayed most voters in her favour.
Karma Lhamo had secured 916 and 358 votes from Mongar and Drepong gewogs, while Dorji Youden got 326 and 140 votes respectively. I
Like in the Nganglam case, many said that Karma Lhamo’s advantage over her opponent was mainly being a ruling party candidate, her experience and strong pledges among others.
A voter said he chose Karma Lhamo over Dorji Youden because of her experience over the fresh candidate and being vocal so that she could represent their issues well in Parliament.
After the results were declared a jubilant Karma Lhamo thanked her supporters and said she was overwhelmed by the resul,t and that she was further determined to work for the benefit of her constituents.
As for her opponent Dorji Youden, she said it was the experience and knowledge she had gained during the course of over a month of the election process more than winning the race.
Mongar demkhong has a total of 11,074 registered voters with 5270 males and 5804 females. With about 6,184 votes the voter turnout was 55.8 percent.
ECB said out of the total registered voters in the two Demkhongs, 5,515 have opted to vote through conventional Postal Ballot while 433 voters have registered for Mobile Voting Booth.
Further, ECB facilitated registered voters above the age of 65 and voters living with disabilities through Mobile Voting Booth using EVMs.