Six dzongkhags – Mongar, Samdrupjongkhar, Samtse, Sarpang, Thimphu, and Wangdue – proposed to the Delimitation Commission for additional National Assembly constituencies during the  public hearing on the draft delimitation plan.

Stakeholders in the dzongkhags cited large geographical areas and an increased number of voters to support their proposal.

A dzongkhag can have up to seven constituencies, according to the Constitution.

However, the commission decided that the request for additional constituencies did not meet the general requirement going by the Delimitation of Demkhong Rules and Regulations, according to a press release from the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB). The standard size of a constituency is 10,000 registered voters.

The commission decided to maintain the existing 47 constituencies without any change.

The next delimitation exercise will be due in 2027, only after which additional constituencies could be carved out. A delimitation exercise is carried out every 10 years.

During the public hearing, which was held from November 20 to December 4, the Delimitation Commission heard from gups, mangmis, thrompons, goshay nyenshays of all 205 gewogs. Officials from dzongkhag thromde, and dzongkhag administration were also consulted.

Secretary of ECB, Dawa Tenzin, said that the commission endorsed the delimitation plan. “The endorsement of the draft delimitation plan will be effective for 10 years,” he said.

Dawa Tenzin said that proposals for more polling stations were also raised and that ECB will look into them. He added that ECB would look into and take a decision on the proposals for additional polling stations.

Stakeholders in Gasa and Thimphu proposed that constituencies should be realigned based on the altitude of each gewog.

Sixteen dzongkhags – Bumthang, Chukha, Dagana, Gasa, Haa, Lhuentse, Paro, Punakha, Samdrup jongkhar, Sarpang, Thimphu, Trashiyangtse, Trongsa, Tsirang, Wangdue and Zhemgang – have two seats each in National Assembly. Mongar and Pemagatshel have three seats each. Samtse and Trashigang have four and five seats respectively.

The delimitation exercise was carried out based on the population records of May 8, 2017 when the number of total registered voters was 411,780. This is an average of 8,761 voters per constituency.

Proposal for additional LG constituencies 

Chukha, Haa, Samtse, Sarpang, Thimphu, and Wangdue requested for additional local government constituencies. The commission, however, decided that the proposals for changes in the local government constituencies would be made during the next local government delimitation exercise in 2019.

According to ECB, delimitation of local government constituencies will begin after the third parliamentary elections in 2018.

During the public hearing, people of Trashigang proposed clubbing Benshingmo village with either Kanglung gewog or Udzorong gewog. Residents of the village are split between the two gewogs.

People of Dagana requested realigning Gyabling, Pipling, Gumti and Doonglagang villages of Tsenda-gang gewog with Karmaling gewog.

The people of Korphu gewog in Trongsa have their census registered in Sarpang. This has posed administrative issues.

Stakeholders in Zhemgang requested the commission to realign Dhakphel village of Nangkor gewog with Trong gewog. The village is nearer to Trong gewog centre rather.

In Chhukha, the people of Lalikha village have their civil registration in Phuentshogling gewog. Similarly, the people of Changkha village have their civil registration in Geling gewog.

Citing proximity and traditional linkages, stakeholders also proposed that Babana, Papaling and Chazi villages of Chhukha should be brought under Paro.

According to ECB, the proposals relating to dzongkhag and gewog boundaries would be put up to the government. “This could be done ahead of the next local government delimitation exercise.”

Bumthang, Samtse and Wangdue requested for changes in the names of local government constituencies.

The commission said that the local governments in collaboration with the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, the National Land Commission, the Dzongkhag Development Authority and ECB should initiate the process of standardising the names of places.

MB Subba