Dechen Dolkar 

Half of the incumbent National Council (NC) members will be re-contesting in the NC elections this year.

With a few months left for the NC to end its term, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) is yet to announce the election schedule.

Unlike the 2013 elections, incumbent NC members can now re-contest without resigning from their posts. The parliament had made it possible for the incumbent members to re-contest without resigning by amending the NC Act of 2008 in 2014.

Of the total, eight incumbent NC members decided not to contest again for the upcoming elections.

It was learnt that all the members who have served for more than two terms are not re-contesting. They claim that they wanted to give opportunities to new faces.

It was also learnt that political parties have also approached them.

After serving for two terms, the Chairperson, Tashi Dorji from Wangduephodrang decided not to re-contest this time.

The chairperson said that he has served as a member and as a chairperson of the house. “I feel that it is time to give the opportunity to new faces and bring changes,”

However, he said that he has no plans to join political parties as of now.

It was learnt that three parties have approached him.

Similarly, the Deputy Chairperson, Jigme Wangchuk from Samdrupjongkhar has also decided not to re-contest. He is serving his third term in the National Council.

He said that he wanted to give opportunities to new candidates. “I may or may not join the party.”

Nima from Bumthang, Tempa Dorji from Lhuentse, Pema Dakpa from Zhemgang, Tshewang Rinzin from Thimphu, Lhatu from Trashigang and Tashi Samdrup from Trongsa have decided not to re-contest.

Meanwhile, 10 members decided to contest in the fourth NC elections.

The members claimed that they wanted to re-contest because,in the first term, they were not able to reach people orienting themselves and learning the policies and laws. They said that in the second term, they will be familiar with the laws and connect to the people and serve them.

Ten incumbent NC members, Sangay Dorji from Chukha, Surjaman Thapa from Dagana, Dorji Khandu from Gasa, Ugyen Namgay from Haa, Sonam Pelzom from Mongar, Choining Dorji from Pemagatshel, Lhaki Dolma from Punakha, Ugyen Tshering from Paro, Anand Rai from Sarpang and Karma Gyeltshen from Trashiyangtse want to re-contest in this election.

Two members, Tirtha Man Rai from Samtse and Dhan Kumar Sunwar from Tsirang do not qualify to recontest for the elections since they do not fulfil the 10-year work experience. MP Dhan Kumar Sunwar falls short by three months and Tirtha Man Rai needs four more years to meet the requirement.

According to the rules of elections conduct 2022, qualification criteria for candidates standing for elective officer, should serve in an office in the public/private sector with exemplary conduct and performance for five years for the assumption of office in the National Assembly, and for 10 years for the assumption of office in the National Council.

The current NC members assumed office on May 10, 2018. Their five-year term of office will end tentatively on May 9.