Lost Nanong-Shumar to PDP 

Thinley Namgay 

The nine eastern dzongkhags, it is believed, is the stronghold of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT). Going by voting patterns in the last three National Assembly elections, it is not wrong. However, DPT has lost its grip on eastern Bhutan going by the recently concluded primary round on November 30.

 The presence of more parties, especially the Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP) and Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa (DTT), has taken a share of the support leading to DPT losing even Nanong-Shumar to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). 

DPT’s Spokesperson and Bartsham-Shongphu’s candidate, Passang Dorji (PhD), said voters got split with two more parties contesting the elections.  “We were prepared to contest, but when there are more parties, voter bases split. At the end of the day, it depends on the choice of the people,” he said. 

While observers feel that fielding young candidates lost confidence of the voters, Passang Dorji disagrees. Some blame the former candidates for not keeping in touch with the people over the last five years. Observers also believe that DPT had not campaigned enough to retain their support.  “DPT has a solid support base. Had they campaigned better, they would have come second,” said an observer. “Even without vigorous campaigning and fielding young and inexperienced candidates, DPT came third.”     

DPT’s Secretary General Sonam Tashi provides a different insight. He said that votes got divided as BTP’s President, who is vying for the post of Prime Minister, is from the east, and DTT has their headquarters in the east. 

Of the 23 constituencies in the nine eastern dzongkhags, DPT was able to win only Khar-Yurung and Nganglam constituencies in Pemagatshel. DPT lost the support of 16 constituencies this time, which the party had won in the 2018 primary round. 

In 2018, DPT won in 18 constituencies out of 23 in the east, which means 78.2 percent of constituencies in the east voted for DPT. 

On November 30, DPT received 2,012 votes from Khar-Yurung followed by BTP with 1,687 and PDP 1,412 votes. The party also got 2,494 votes from Nganglam followed by PDP with 1,158 and BTP with 923 votes.  

DPT’s Jomotshangkha-Martshala candidate, Norbu Wangzom, said PDP had a huge postal ballot advantage which affected DPT’s success. “The presence of BTP and DTT divided the votes.”

The vote margin of DPT was comparatively lower in Chhoekhor-Tang and Chhumig-Ura constituencies in Bumthang, Gangzur-Minjey and Maenbi-Tsaenkhar constituencies in Lhuentse, Kanglung-Samkhar-Udzorong, Wamrong, and Thrimshing constituencies in Trashigang, and Nubi-Tangsibji constituency in Trongsa. The votes  DPT received from these constituencies were below 700.    

However, DPT gained  commendable support from nine constituencies in Pemagatshel, Mongar, Samdrupjongkhar, and Zhemgang, where the party mostly came second or third in total votes received.

Secretary General Sonam Tashi  said DPT is proud to receive 46,694 votes to come third. “The party would remain alive. There is no way that DPT is going to dissolve. We will come back stronger,” he said.