With less than 10 days to the poll day, the heat is intense in Dewathang-Gomdar constituency with candidates hitting door-to-door campaign. 

In most villages, candidates and their coordinators are visiting for the third time.  

Voters said that the parties have similar pledges to improve roads, health services, build bridges and ensure more reliable electricity. 

Some voters also raised concerns and issues during the campaign. How the candidates and their supporters relate these pledges to the villages would determine their support.  

Voters said that door-to-door campaign could make a difference, however, candidates said there is not much time left for campaign.  

The only woman president political party and the lone woman candidate in the constituency, takes on three younger men in the primary round of the National Assembly elections. 

Should something not happen in the last 48 hours to cause a drastic switch of allegiance, each party is confident to book a huge support in the constituency in Samdrupjongkhar, which has 14,587 of which 51.5 percent are women. 

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s Ugyen Dorji is popular in his village, Yarphu in Wangphu gewog and its adjacent gewog Gomdar. The two gewogs combined have a large voter base. His supporters claim he had done much to bring roads and development to the two gewogs when his party, DPT was in the government. 

However, the constituency chose People’s Democratic Party’s Mingbo Dukpa, the former education minister in 2013.

In the 2013 general elections, Ugyen Dorji secured 3,594 votes against Mingbo Dukpa who secured 3,970 from the constituency. The voter turnout was 61 percent of the 12,330 total registered voters in the country. 

Except speaking at the common forums in the gewogs and the thromde, BKP’s Neten Zangmo could not campaign much. Neten Zangmo’s experience with the Samdrupjongkhar Initiative has worked with farmers in Dewathang and neighbouring villages. 

Even in her manifesto, she has said, that domestic production of dairy and agriculture produce would be enhanced. 

An elderly Sonam Yangzom said, “It must be so much demanding for a woman to stand against men but she is different.” Some also see her as a doer.

The two other candidates, PDP’s Wangdi Gyeltshen and DNT’s Thinley Namgyel who are registered in Dewathang with Neten Zangmo have their own advantages. 

Supporters of Wangdi Gyeltshen, who replaced former education minister Mingbo Dukpa, said the gewogs have undergone development including central schools in the dzongkhag. 

“A lot of families have benefitted from these schools,” a villager in Orong, Wangda said. “He could reap dividends from these benefits.”

Living in the constituency for the past 10 years and also having served as a thromde tshogpa, DNT’s Thinley Namgyel is familiar in neighbouring gewogs of Dewathang. Despite his young age, voters said he had shown maturity in common forum debates and have been to almost all households. 

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s candidate is a nephew of PDP’s dzongkhag coordinator. 

Phuntshothang gewog has one of the highest numbers of voters and both DNT president Lotay Tshering and BKP’s Neten Zangmo spoke to the voters. While Lotay Tshering spoke in Dzongkha, which voters said they had difficulty in understanding during the common forum, Neten Zangmo spoke in fluent Lhotshamkha and Tshanglakha. 

In the communities, party coordinators can identify households by the parties they support. After the common forum meeting is over, the coordinators meet with voters on the sidelines where some supporters reaffirm their support. 

Tshering Palden | Samdrupjongkhar