It was expected. That the people of Sarpang would vote in the Nyamrup spirit came true when the returning officers of the dzongkhag’s two constituencies declared the election results in the evening of October 18.

In the Shompangkha constituency, the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) candidate Tek Bdr Rai won 7,018 votes, which is the highest among all the candidates in the 47 constituencies. He received 72.78 percent of the total valid votes cast for the constituency’s two candidates. 

DNT’s other victory in the Gelephu constituency was with a smaller margin, but comfortable. Former National Council (NC) member from Sarpang and DNT candidate Karma Donnen Wangdi won 55 percent of the votes cast in the constituency.

Karma Donnen Wangdi secured 5,433 votes. He won win a margin of 1,258 votes against Pema Tashi of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), while Tek Bdr Rai won by a margin of 4,156 votes against DPT’s Deo Kumar Rimal. 

The former NC member has become the first person to win a second term in Parliament from Sarpang. 

Voters attribute the DNT win to the inabilities of the two former elected  governments to address their issues and DNT president Dr Lotay Tshering’s  ability to speak the local language. People wanted change and the president in his fluent Lhotsamkha convinced them there should be a change in governance. The party is locally known as the “Phool (flower)” party.

Loyal supporters of DPT, however, remained unaffected by the DNT factor. Those supportive of the DPT candidates in both the constituencies were of the view that they cared more about the country’s long-term interests, rather than the freebees DNT offered.  

A DNT coordinator in Gelephu, Sonam, said the party’s manifesto was one of the main reasons why people voted for DNT. “They understood and appreciated our manifesto which revolves around the idea of narrowing the gap,” he said.

Some of the voters in the dzongkhag told Kuensel said that they had hopes that DNT as a government would do better than DPT in terms addressing their concerns. Some said they wanted a government that would do more than developmental works for the people.

The DNT had more than DPT in terms of what they had to promise although some of the pledges were same. DNT’s promise to provide maternity allowance for rural women and vehicle quota for all looked attractive to some voters, while DPT maintained that it would rather empower people than provide freebies.  

“I think the monthly allowance for mothers will be helpful for poor mothers. We also wanted change,” said a female voter from Umling gewog. 

Sarpang has voted for three parties in as many elections with a resounding support in each of the parties. One of the reasons for switching their support to new parties in every parliamentary election has been the inability of the last two successive governments to address their issues. 

“We have raised some of the issues and concerns faced by the people of our dzongkhag in the meeting with the DNT president during his campaign tour. He has promised to address our concerns,” said a voter in Gelephu thromde, who did not want to be named.

He said he attended the campaign meetings of both DPT and DNT presidents.

The DPT candidates have accepted the defeat saying that they would respect the people’s decision. Pema Tashi and Deo Kumar Rimal said that it was the people’s decision they would respect and congratulated the winners. 

Karma Donnen Wangdi said that he would give his best to serve the people of the constituency. He said he had been able to touch the hearts of the voters.

Tek Bdr Rai said that he would not let his supporters down. He said his manifesto and pledges had gone well with the voters.

MB Subba | Gelephu