Parliament: Common forums for the by-election in the North Thimphu constituency will start today at the RNR centre in Kawang gewog although the election campaign officially began from October 14.

Kezang Wangmo, 26, is the opposition Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s (DPT) candidate while 33-year-old Tshering represents the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Kezang Wangmo said she has been busy meeting people to garner support for her candidature. Tshering has also started his campaign and is prepared for the common forums.

The constituency has traditionally been a DPT stronghold. However, the PDP candidate had more time to prepare and network compared to Kezang Wangmo as she joined the party just recently after the first candidate withdrew citing personal reasons.

“I have already started my campaign by meeting people although the common forum will start tomorrow,” Kesang Wangmo said. Her urban priorities are water, youth employment, local area plans, building permits, roads and traffic.

Her rural plans are farm roads, electricity, dzong construction, timber and temporary constructions.

Kezang Wangmo was working with a private firm in Nganglam in Pemagatshel before joining politics. Originally, her father comes from Bumthang and mother from Trashiyangtse.

Tshering said he has started his campaign and met supporters. His priorities include bridges, safe drinking water supply, better drainage systems and mule tracks.

He said he would also provide a 50 percent subsidy on helicopter services for the people of Soe, Lingzhi and Naro gewogs. “I will also start reconstruction of Lingzhi Dzong next year,” he said.

Tshering contested in the 2013 National Council election and lost. He is a graduate from Chennai University in India and worked with Bhutan Broadcasting Service for three years.

PDP says many people are coming forward in support of the party as supporters as well as new members. The party says that even though North Thimphu voted twice for DPT, the present government has been “impartial” and carried out many developmental activities in the constituency.

The by-election in the North Thimphu constituency will be held on November 4. The constituency consists of the north thromde, and the four gewogs of Kawang, Lingzhi, Naro and Soe.

Kinga Tshering resigned as MP recently to pursue higher studies abroad.

All electoral stakeholders are allowed to use social media for election or campaign purposes. However, the ECB has advised them to abide by the electoral laws, Election Code of Conduct and specifically adhere to the requirements under the Social Media Rules of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2015.

The ECB will use Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for polling in all polling stations.

All those under the laws not eligible to campaign for or against a candidate or a party in an election, including all elected position holders in the local government, are not allowed to engage directly or indirectly in the election campaigns, according to the electoral laws.

During the campaign period, supporters or representatives cannot use any title, sign, insignia or symbol. No person will be allowed to use the title, designation, rank, kabney, gyentag, pata, or any other sign, insignia or symbol of an office held earlier, on person, car or any personal effects as may be used during the campaign period by the candidate, representatives or supporters, according to the ECB.

The office of the Returning Officer and venue of the election events shall be, as far as possible, at locations that do not require the wearing of the kabney, gyentag, and pata.

The polls will be conducted in 14 polling stations. The ECB has said all employers are required by law to grant the required number of days as election leave for any voter wishing to go to vote in person.

MB Subba