Despite minor glitches during the common forum, all four candidates’ friendly disposition was what grabbed the attention of the people and officials alike at the Lungnyi gewog centre in Paro yesterday.

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s candidate Chencho Dorji said they started sharing their meals and eating together since the start of the common forum in Naja gewog. “We decided that it was how we should conduct it as professionals. Politics is different but we are also good friends.”

People Democratic Party’s candidate Gem Tshering said every candidate speaks for the good of the people and in accordance with the procedure. “We come for the same purpose. All four of us talk for the development of the district and for the benefit of the people.”

Chencho Dorji said that in the past elections, no such thing was done. He said that before Gem Tshering joined politics, he was a very strong supporter. “I have high regard for him. As for Namgay, we are distantly related. Even Tshering is a relative.”

Returning officer Sherab Gyeltshen said the candidates have been together in every forum and meeting. “We don’t expect any less from these bureaucrats as they have to be role models.”

He said that people generally take mudslinging and sort to be involved with candidates during elections. “But in reality this doesn’t really happen at their level.”

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s candidate Namgay Tshering said they are separated by political ideologies. “However, we are here for the same cause, that is, nation building. We are here to provide alternatives to people.”

Bhutan Kuen-nyam Party’s candidate Tshering Penjor said Namgay Tshering was his classmate. “Although in elections all candidates are considered equal for level playing field, we respect seniors as they have already served the nation. So naturally there is a will to cooperate.”

He said divisive politics was not necessary. “We are unaware of how party supporters work but in common forum we try to convince people not to act despicably. Even after the elections we have to live together in the same village and dzongkhag.”

One of the residents attending the forum, Sonam, said all candidates were in their best behaviour to date. “We are happy that there was no one degrading or damaging the other’s reputation.”

He said that during such a time when it is common for contenders to concoct rumours or exaggerate matters to win over public support, it was heartening to see them cooperate.

Rinchen Zangmo | Paro