It is 1:36pm in Gairigaon, a village in Norbugang (Chengmari) gewog, Samtse. The sky is covered in thick clouds and it’s drizzling – the best weather for farmers to weed their paddy fields.

Purna Bahadur Ghalley, 60, has decided which party he would vote for to form the government.

But neither does he know the name of the parties nor the name of the candidates in his constituency.

He, however, knows the party symbols — the horse, the cranes, the jewels, and the peach flower.

“I think people from the peach party and the bird party came but I am not sure,” he said. “I haven’t seen other party candidates.”

Purna Bahadur Ghalley was alone in his house yesterday.

His wife, son, and daughter-in-law had gone out to lend hands in the neighbours’ paddy fields.

Another villager from Kothidara, Indra Kumari Subba, had come to work at a neighbour’s paddy field.“We are here from 9am to 5pm,” she said.

Except for DN Dhungyel of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), she said she has not seen candidates from other parties since the campaign started on August 23.

However, she said she has met Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) president, Lotay Tshering, once in Thimphu.

“He had operated my husband in Gidakom,” she said. “I haven’t met him here in my village.”

Although most farmers still haven’t met candidates, they are aware of the names of the presidents.

Farmers also do not know what are the pledges of the four political parties.

Januki Rai said that not a single candidate has come for campaigning to her place.

“We villagers don’t know much,” she said, adding that her husband would know more as he would attend the meetings most of the time.

About the developments in her village, Januki Rai said the village has been well connected and drinking water is available all season.

“However, we will have to be careful in casting our votes,” she said. “Promises made in campaign periods may not necessarily come true.”

Another villager, Alexander Rai, said it is not that the party candidates were not visiting the villagers.

“I have seen candidates use the same road,” he said. “I think they are just concentrating in places that are their own stronghold.”

Norbugang gewog falls under Phuentshogpelri-Samtse constituency in Samtse.

Ganesh Ghimiray from DNT, Sabitman Rai from Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party, Kamal Dan Chamling from Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), and DN Dhungyel of PDP will contest from this constituency.

There are about 10,806 voters as per the electoral roll approved by the Election Commission of Bhutan.

Meanwhile, with the common forums starting yesterday in Phuentshogpelri-Samtse constituency, voters are expecting to be able to distinguish their candidates.

At the forums, a candidate would be given 10 minutes to speak.

Unlike in the past, Norbugang residents also said that there is not much hue and cry this election period.

A taxi driver, Saiman Gurung, who ferries people between Samtse town and Chengmari, said he has seen accusations fly on Facebook but nothing is happening in villages and constituencies.

“It is very silent here in villages,” he said.

Rajesh Rai | Samtse