It is 3pm. The mild rays of the setting sun and gentle breeze makes it a pleasant evening in Dogar village of Dophuchen, popularly known as Dorokha, in Samtse.

Yangchi, in her late 70s, is engrossed in a movie on the television. Her daughters are away at work.

The elderly said voting is important but she neither knows the names of the parties nor the candidates. “I voted in the primary round and I will vote again at the general election.”

Yangchi said one of the candidates had visited her house for campaigning but she doesn’t know who actually came visiting.

Four gewogs of Dophuchen, Denchukha, Dumtey, and Tading are under Dophuchen-Tading constituency in Samtse. It has the highest number of eligible voters at 13,231.

Loknath Sharma from Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) and Thakur Singh Powdyel from Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) are contesting the general election.

It’s obvious that it is a tough competition between the two.

In the primary round, DPT and DNT stood first and second and had just a difference of 226 votes. DPT had won 2,679 votes, while DNT secured 2,453 votes then. DPT had topped the EVM with 2,163 votes while DNT received 792 postal ballots.

Observers in Dophuchen say Thakur Singh Powdyel is more popular at the grassroots level and DNT at the urban centres.

Prior to Thakur Singh Powdyel’s declaration to contest from DPT, DNT supporters of Dophuchen were upbeat about winning the constituency. Today, party workers are slogging but no one is sure who would win.

DNT representative in Dophuchen, Buddha Lepcha, said DNT would win.

“We are waiting for change,” he said, adding that it was important to win from the constituency. “If DNT formed the government, it would be more benefitting to have a parliamentarian from the ruling than from the opposition.”

DPT coordinator Traley Dukpa said DPT would win in Dophuchen-Tading. “We are expecting a positive result here,” he said. “We have worked hard.”

Voters have a different say.

Phurba, 71, said that both the candidates had come for the campaign.

“I will vote for the candidate that would benefit the people and the country most,” he said, explaining that whichever party comes to power has to allow house construction on wetland for those who are in need.

There is also an undercurrent among Dophuchen residents that general election results would depend on where the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP) voters would turn. In the primary round, PDP had garnered 1,648 votes and BKP 958 votes.

A PDP supporter, who has been with the party since its formation days, Khemnath Nepal, said it was difficult to say who the voters would vote for.

“For me, I am neutral at the moment,” he said, adding most PDP voters are neutral.

Khemnath Nepal said that 60 percent of the PDP supporters, including many main supporters, were still neutral and had not decided between DPT and DNT.

“We have to think which party would benefit the most now,” Khemnath Nepal said. “We have to consider which candidate and manifesto would benefit the country and people the most.”

A shopkeeper in Dophuchen town, Dil Maya Rai, said she has not yet decided which candidate to vote for. “Which one to vote for? Maybe for the best candidate,” she said.

Meanwhile, Yangchi does not remember which party she voted for in the primaries.

She said age has taken a toll on her eyesight and tears up as she speaks. “I couldn’t recognise and it was a blur,” she said, hinting at the party symbols on the EVM. “I just pressed one and returned.”

Rajesh Rai | Dophuchen