It is getting dark in Belam Sharang village, Samdrupcholing drungkhag of Samdrupjongkhar.

About 10 villagers are listening to Bhutan Kuen-Nyam President Neten Zangmo at one of her supporter’s house. It was the second meeting yesterday afternoon attended mostly by elders.

Her voice has become hoarse from speaking at more than 420 meetings across the country. This is the third time she is meeting with the people of the gewog but the gathering still remains captivated.

The Dewathang-Gomdar constituency candidate for BKP begins her speech the way she always begins – that people have to be responsible and make their decisions independently without fear.

She said that the people must aspire to be self-reliant and the country has to bring an end to dependence on foreign aid. “People will come to you saying that they would give you so many things but think where the money will come from,” she said. “How long can we continue borrowing?”

She also touches briefly on the manifesto of her party. The party’s primary goal is economic self-reliance with sustainability. BKP pledges 100 percent irrigation and 24 hour drinking water, health, housing, education, and agriculture development activities, among others. Her pothole free pledge goes well with those in attendance. The drungkhag’s only road connecting Samdrupjongkhar is riddled with potholes.

Some even complained during her earlier meeting at the gewog that the road has been left untouched for the past 10 years.

Her dzongkhag coordinator gives a short talk to the gathering. He asks only one question – Do people of the constituency want Neten Zangmo to become the prime minister? “If you want to know what having your candidate as the prime minister can mean for the dzongkhag, then ask the people of Pemagatshel and Haa,” Tashi Tobgay said.

Neten Zangmo also shows the party logo to the gathering and clarifies that she belongs to the ‘Paanch ratna’(five jewels) party and not any other. There has been some confusion as some identify her with Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa.

A few elders speak.

One has only put her thumbprint on the party registration form. “But I know that on the poll day, I can make my own decision,” she said.

The others agreed that choosing the right party would make a difference to the direction the country takes.

Neten Zangmo also spoke with people she met in the town. She said that people have to think very carefully now.

Phuntshothang gewog has one of the largest voting populations and does not have a candidate contesting from the gewog. Dewathang gewog, from which Neten Zangmo stands, has three.

Neten Zangmo does not have any party representatives besides the dzongkhag coordinator. So it was only Tashi Tobgay helping her in her campaign. She travels in a single car with two companions.

Neten Zangmo will wrap up her campaign with a meeting at Orong gewog today.

Tshering Palden | Samdrupjongkhar