The paddy fields of Bumdeling gewog in Trashiyangtse have turned vibrant yellow. It’s harvest time in valley that is one of the winter homes of the endangered blacked-necked cranes.
A group of farmers in Tshalling village are in the field. They are busy harvesting the crop. Occasionally they let out a song or two.
During a door-to-door campaign session, Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s (DPT) Bumdeling-Jamkhar candidate, Dupthop, meets with the farmers. Along with two of his supporters, the candidate greets the group of farmers and requests for their attention for a while. The farmers comply, instantly stop the work, and call the rest of the group.
Dupthop begins explaining the party pledges along with pledges that are pertinent to the village and the constituency. His coordinator distributes the pamphlets of the party pledges.
While the rest of the farmers are engaged in listening to the candidate, an elderly woman continues to collect paddy bundles. She too joins the group.
Dupthop said that given the limited time for the campaign period, it was convenient when farmers are found gathered together in a group. “It is difficult to go to every house when the settlements are scattered. If you are lucky, you get to meet them in such groups.”
Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s (DNT) Bumdeling-Jamkhar candidate, Sangay Dorji, said that since the election officials allowed the practice, it made campaigning easier.
Sangay Dorji said that he met with three such groups in Womanang village and another one in Tshalling under Bumdeling gewog.
“Most of the houses are locked at this time of the year because it is harvest time. This is a good opportunity for us to reach to the maximum voters possible.”
Both the candidates from the constituency said that the voters are receptive of their campaign and explanation of the pledges.
“The decision to vote is in the hands of the voters. We are here to convey to them our pledges and our assurances to help them. I say that whosoever comes to power, it is the people who should benefit,” said Dupthop. “So far, it has been running smoothly for me and my team.”
Sangay Dorji said that he received positive response from the voters. “While we cant expect everyone who we meet to vote for us, I’m positive. Hoping for the best this time.”
During the primary round, DPT secured 2,701 votes against DNT’s 1,471 in Bumdeling-Jamkhar. Of the total 9,219 registered voters in the constituency, 6,141 voted on the poll day.
DNT’s Khamdang-Ramjar candidate, Karma Gyeltshen, who was campaigning at Lengkhar in Khamdang, said that because of the harvest season it was difficult to meet the voters at their houses.
“The door-to-door campaign period is ill-timed. Only if you are lucky, you get to meet the voters when you go to their houses,” he said. “Most of the time when the houses are locked, I leave behind the pamphlets and my visiting card near their doors.”
However, he said that a leeway provided by the Election Commission of Bhutan for candidates to meet the voters in groups while in their fields and when the settlement is clustered, made things easier.
DPT’s Khamdang-Ramjar candidate, Kuenga Loday, also said that the given the limited time and the concurrence of the harvest season with the campaign, it was difficult to communicate their messages to the mass.
“But since we are allowed to meet people in groups in their fields and when the settlements are clustered, we can reach to majority of the voters,” he said. “The number of voters reached is comparably more if you happen to meet them working in fields. That is helpful.”
Both the candidates said that the response from the voters was positive and that they were optimistic.
During the primary round, DNT secured 1,770 votes against DPT’s 2,742 in Khamdang-Ramjar. Of the total 9,176 registered voters in the constituency, 6,172 voted on the poll day.
Trashiyangtse has 18,388 registered voters. The turnout during the primary round was 12,313, which is 66.9 percent of the total registered voters.
Younten Tshedup | Bumdeling