Samdrupjongkhar switched to Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) this election from its 2013 choice for People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

While the voters and supporters of PDP were a crucial factor in the general round of elections in Samdrupjongkhar, DPT candidates’ popularity and manifesto led them to victory.

Since the primary round of elections, the candidates, coordinators, and representatives of DPT had been hesitant of votes from PDP supporters.

DPT’s Jomotshangkha-Martshala Member of Parliament (MP) elect Norbu Wangzom said that getting PDP supporters to support her had been a challenge.

Her strategy of targeting the voters directly instead of seeking support from the representatives kept her safe with the votes of PDP supporters. “It was difficult getting the PDP representatives or coordinators to support us. So I directly went for PDP voters and convinced them to vote for me.”

In the general election, Norbu Wangzom secured more than 50 percent of the votes earlier taken by PDP and Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP) in the primary round.

DPT was also in lead with more than 1,700 votes in the primary round. 

However, the rivalry between DPT and PDP had almost caused DPT’s Dewathang-Gomdar MP elect Ugyen Dorji his seat in the parliament. 

In the primary round, DPT’s Ugyen Dorji had won by a huge margin. He had secured 4,020 votes in the primaries, which is more than about 1,500 votes secured by DNT candidate.  

On the evening of the poll day, when the postal ballots were declared, the margin narrowed to 23 votes. 

When PDP lost in the primary round, one of the DNT candidates said that most of PDP supporters turned to support DNT for various reasons. “PDP supporters came to us on their own, I think because of the old rivalry. They also said that DNT had supported PDP in 2013 by giving some of their candidates.”

In the primary round, more 2,000 voters voted for BKP. Candidates of DPT and DNT agreed that identifying BKP supporters was a challenge.

Although postal ballot votes were divided almost equally between the DNT and DPT candidates of Dewathang-Gomdar constituency, DPT’s Jomotshangkha-Martshala candidate Norbu Wangzom was in the lead by over 800 votes. 

All candidates in Samdrupjongkhar said that their focus had been more on the EVM voters and could reach very little for the postal voters. The public debate and the “know your candidate” series on the mainstream media had been a vital source for the postal voters of Samdrupjongkhar to make a choice. 

Any individual in Samdrupjongkhar welcomes a candidate or coordinator to share their manifestos but their vote remains a secret maintained throughout the election period.

A farmer from Gomdar said that with the third round of NA elections, people are well aware of one’s responsibility to know the parties and their candidates.  

In the general election, the candidates’ popularity, and attitude was a crucial factor for people to make a choice.

Norbu Wangzom is known for her humility and for playing a crucial role in bringing developmental activities to some of the remote areas in Jomotshangkha-Martshala constituency.

Tenzin from Lauri said that as Norbu Wangzom came from a humble background, she had remained accessible throughout her time in parliament.

He added that although road and electricity didn’t reach all the remote areas in the constituency, it was during DPT’s time since 2008 until 2013 that initiatives had begun.

“Even the people from the government offices had denied posting in the remote areas of our constituency. But the development brought today has benefited us a lot. This can be attributed to both the governments in the past. And there are still a lot more that needs to be done in the constituency.”

Twenty-two polling stations were set up in Jomotshangkha-Martshala constituency. Norbu Wangzom won in 13. 

Of 33 polling stations in Dewathang-Gomder constituency, Ugyen Dorji won from 20 stations. 

Ugyen Dorji, a former MP is also known for his works in bringing road, and mobile network in the constituency. 

MP elect Ugyen Dorji said that he had different pledges for different villages in the constituency, which he thought would have appealed to the voters. 

“I thank my supporters from the bottom of my heart. People would be heartbroken by the fact that we didn’t get to form the government,” he said. “They might think that I wouldn’t have any power or authority to carry out what I have pledged as an opposition, but I would like to pledge to the people that I will try my best in the parliament as well as to look into their welfare.”

Phurpa Lhamo | Samdrupjongkhar