Six members including the Chairperson have decided not to recontest 

Fourteen incumbent National Council (NC) members are heading to their dzongkhags to recontest the upcoming elections slated for April 20.

A plenary was held in Thimphu yesterday. The incumbent members who are recontesting will have to attend gewog zomdu, which begins from February 24.

Six out of 20 elected members are not recontesting.

Incumbent members can recontest without resigning, as NC is a continuous house. However, they can be called back to Thimphu even during the election period if important issues arise for discussion.

Chairperson and member from Trashigang, Sonam Kinga (PhD), Dagana’s Sonam Dorji, Punakha’s Rinzin Dorji, Kaka Tshering from Paro, Jigmi Rinzin from Pemagatshel and Sangay Khandu from Samtse are not recontesting.

Rumours are rife that some of them may join political parties. However, the members said they would remain away from party politics until May 10, when they complete their term.

Sonam Dorji, who is serving his second term, said it was an enriching experience to serve in the house for the first 10 years of democracy.

“I learned a lot as a member of the house, and I gave my best,” Sonam Dorji said, thanking the people of Dagana for the opportunity. “I will keep the nation and people’s interest in my heart even as I leave the NC,” he said.

For Sangay Khandu, it is his first stint as a member of NC. When he contested and won in 2013, Sangay Khandu said he had told his constituents that he would serve one term only.

“I will observe a self-imposed cooling off period for 15 days after the expiry of my term to spend time with my wife and children,” he said.

“I will decide my next move after that.”

Sangay Khandu said he has been unable to give time for his family due to parliamentary works and social works involving his constituents.

Asked if he had plans to join party politics, Sangay Khandu said that he would not be associated with any party until the completion of his term as a member of NC, which is an apolitical house. “I am a serving member of NC until May 10,” he said.

Jigmi Rinzin, who will also complete his second term, said there were no specific reasons for not recontesting. He said he wants to take rest and see new candidates take up the opportunity.

Kaka Tshering said he was happy that many are aspiring to become NC members. “A lot of women candidates have also come forward, and I would like to see some of them elected,” he said.

Chairperson Sonam Kinga said he did not want to comment.

Deputy Chairperson and NC’s Spokesperson, Tshering Dorji, said that a plenary would be called anytime if necessary although the recontesting members will be away in their constituencies.

Tshering Dorji from Haa, who is recontesting for a third term, said it was important for NC as a house of review to take the incomplete deliberations to the next NC.

“We discussed on our commitment to uphold the electoral laws to ensure a free and fair election,” he said, concerning the plenery.

Tshering Dorji said it was important that the house of review comprised members with experience. “I’m recontesting thinking that my 10 years of experience in law-making and policy reviews would be important for the house,” he said.

The deputy chairperson, Gasa’s Sangay Khandu and Jigme Wangchuk from Samdrupjongkhar are vying for a third term.

The other incumbents who are recontesting are Nima from Bumthang, Pema Tenzin from Chukha, Tempa Dorji from Lhuentse, Sonam Wangchuk from Mongar, Dhan Bdr. Mongar from Sarpang, Nima Gyeltshen from Thimphu, Tashi Phuntsho from Tashiyangtse, Kamal Bdr. Gurung from Tsirang, Tashi Dorji from Wangdue and Pema Dakpa from Zhemgang.

The current members’ term in office will expire on May 9. The third NC is expected to be re-constituted the next day.

The election commission has already notified that recontesting incumbents and candidates will be prohibited from using their title, designation, rank, kabney or rachu, pata or geyntag, or any other sign, insignia or symbol of an office held earlier.

As per electoral laws, there is no limit on the number of terms an NC member can serve.

MB Subba