Two yenlag thromdes have no registered voters

LG: The 15 dzongkhag thromdes and 18 yenlag thromdes declared by the recent parliament session have been cleared for elections, with the declaration of the final delimitation order yesterday.

Given the small voter population in the dzongkhag thromdes, they have been allocated six seats each, which is the minimum number of constituencies required by the election laws in a dzongkhag thromde. The 15 dzongkhag thromdes combined have 90 constituencies to be represented by as many thromde tshogde tshogpas.

However, Gasa will have elections only in Phulakha demkhong as the other five demkhongs (constituency) do not have any registered voters. There are 23 registered voters in the demkhong.

Chief election commissioner (CEC) Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said election can be held even if it is only in one demkhong. He said given the present information, Gasa dzongkhag thromde would be able to elect a thrompon, a tshogpa and a thuemi from the Phulakha demkhong.

While only Phulakha demkhong under Gasa dzongkhag has registered voter population presently, separate elections to the post of thrompon, thromde tshogde tshogpa and dzongkhag thromde dzongkhag tshogde thuemi will be conducted.

The voter population in each of the 15 dzongkhag thromdes is less than 5,000. Voter population wise, Bumthang is the biggest dzongkhag thromde with 2,265 registered voters. Gasa is the smallest with 23 voters.

Among the yenlag thromdes – Damji in Gasa and Dhosoom in Tashiyangtse – will also not have elections as the two do not have any registered voters.

Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said elections will be conducted along with the upcoming dzongkhag thromde elections in Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Gelephu that will be called later this year.

However, the CEC said that the election plans laid by the present election body may not be definite as a new set of election commissioners and CEC would be taking office soon. He said though the present body feels that the elections can be held, “The ultimate decision will be the prerogative and responsibility of the new commission.”

On the confusion of where yenlag thromdes would function, the CEC said, “If yenlag thromdes fall under dzongkhag administrations, I would imagine a situation where yenlag thromdes will behave like dzongkhag thromde B in the earlier system,” he said.

Dasho Kunzang Wangdi also said it was the government’s prerogative to decide whether it would go under the gewog or dzongkhag administration. “There is an urgency to take a decision at the earliest as dzongkhag thromde and yenlag thromde elections will have to begin soon,” he said.

The election commission has written to the prime minister requesting for clear directives on whether yenlag thromde administrations should function under dzongkhag or gewog administrations.

According to the election commission, the thromdes delimitation was carried out based on Section 10 of Article 22 of the Constitution, which provides, “A Gewog Tshogde or a Thromde Tshogde shall not have more than ten and fewer than seven elected members.”

Since only one yenlag thromde in each of the 18 dzongkhags have been declared, the election commission states the nomination process for yenlag thromde thuemi will follow the procedures adopted for the nomination of the tshogpa candidates in chiwogs.

The final delimitation order was issued for dzongkhag thromde tshogde tshogpa demkhongs of Bumthang, Dagana, Gasa, Haa, Lhuentse, Mongar, Paro, Punakha, Samtse, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Trongsa, Tsirang, Wangdue Phodrang and Zhemgang. Yenlag thromdes of Pemagatshel and Paro have not been declared.

If the winter session of parliament declares the yenlag thromde for Paro and dzongkhag thromde and yenlag thromde for Pemagatshel, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said the election commission would be able hold elections by the end of 2016.

A press release from the election commission states that efforts have been made to ensure that the voter population of demkhongs in a thromde is equal or similar in size so as to give equivalent weight to the votes cast by every voter, according to the commission.

“However, consideration had to be given not only to create clear geographical boundaries but also to the changes in the proposed demkhong boundaries based on valid reasons put forward by the participants at the public hearing,” it stated.

MB Subba