The candidates of the upcoming bye-election in Nganglam, Pemagatshel have about a month to campaign in their constituencies from today.

Constituents say they are already using social media to discuss the election while loyal supporters are chalking out strategies in favour of their respective parties. But supporters and voters are conducting themselves in a low-key manner.

The Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) has fielded an IT professional, Karma Dorji, while Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) has chosen a former agriculture extension in Wangdue, Rinchen Pelzang. Both candidates are from Decheling gewog.

A voter in the constituency, Lungpo, said that there was nothing much happening in the constituency although the elections dates were announced. “People are talking about the election, but not as much as they used to do before. People today are more aware of elections and parties.”

He said that he received a call from a supporter of one of the parties asking him to support their candidate.

Another resident and voter from Nganglam, Jampay Yeshey, said that people had created social media groups to discuss the election.

He said that some of the voters who voted for DPT in the past elections might vote for the Ruling Rarty due to advantages of having an MP from the Ruling Party. “But it’s too early to say who will win the election.”

Meanwhile, the parties will start their official campaigns on May 25 and the election will be held on June 29.

An observer said that DPT was still strong in the constituency, which has voted for the party in all three general elections.

“There are chances of the DPT candidate receiving sympathy votes due to the untimely demise of its former MP Choida Jamtsho who was popular with many voters,” he said.

He added that the DPT candidate was involved in social works in his community. 

The bye-election is different from the past elections. Some observers say that voters are developing tendencies to vote for the Ruling Party in bye-elections due to the advantages the Ruling Party enjoys.

The Ruling Party has won all the past bye-elections except the Nanong Shumar by-election, which was the first in the country. 

A voter said that it would be difficult to predict the outcome of the by-election. Choida Jamtsho who secured 3,576 votes had defeated Karma Dorji by 1,600 votes in the 2018 election. “But the equation is not the same now,” the voter said. 

Even as the candidates are preparing to file their nominations, supporters and wellwishers are sending messages to the candidates through social media.

Before heading to the constituency, candidates reached out to their supporters and constituents in Thimphu and even the neighbouring dzongkhags like Paro and Wangdue.

Voters Kuensel talked to in urban centres like Thimphu said that they would vote through postal ballots. 

Party supporters and members who have changed their camps have already reached out to the candidates of the new party of their choice, party members claim. 

Karma Dorji said he would travel to the constituency on May 23. He has been busy in Thimphu processing documents and reaching out to constituents. 

“People are coming forward to express their support for me and the party,” he says, adding that more people had understood the advantages of choosing the candidate of the party in the government. “I would like to serve from the platform of the Ruling Party.”  

Karma Dorji already has a good rapport with party members and supporters, as it is his second election in the same constituency. 

The DPT’s candidate and former agriculture extension officer, Rinchen Pelzang, said that he was receiving calls and messages on social media even before he was officially declared as the party’s candidate. The DPT officially introduced his candidature on May 22.

“I have been receiving many friend requests on social media. I received about 100 calls from supporters in one day,” he said, adding that he had been regularly visiting the constituency for social events.

He claimed that some constituents, who had supported DNT, had come to him to assure their support. The former DNT supporters, he said, had come to him saying that the Ruling Party had lived up to its words.

By MB Subba