LG: The five chiwogs of Lhamoizingkha gewog in Dagana each have an equally competent gup candidate.
Of the three gewogs of Dagana, Lhamoizingkha (Farmgaon) is the largest in Lhamoizingkha dungkhag with 1,985 voters.
Among the chiwogs in this gewog, Lhamoizingkha has the highest number of voters with 621. As a result, this is the main area of interest for the four contestants of the other chiwogs.
But the gup aspirant in this chiwog, Karma Sherpa is considered a heavyweight. Although turnout was poor during the zomdu, the former mangmi managed 90 votes from 133 cast. The 39-year-old outdid two former teachers, which voters said were equally capable.
“Since I served for seven years as a mangmi, I know in which corners problems exist,” Karma Sherpa said, adding that he has the solutions. “I want the public and the government to both benefit.”
If elected, Karma Sherpa said he would solve the problem of safe drinking water in the gewog, which according to him is a major problem today. Another issue he will address is human-wildlife conflict, he said.
Hari Gurung, the contestant for Chongsamling (Sipsuni) chiwog also said drinking water facilities and human-wildlife conflict are major problems people are grappling with today. The 58-year-old who has been an agriculture extension officer for 20 years said he understood such matters better than others.
“Drinking water connectivity is a serious problem,” Hari Gurung said. “It needs immediate attention.”
Recurring problems with the irrigation channel in his chiwog is another issue he will solve, if elected, he said. This year many people in his chiwog cultivated paddy using rainwater, he pointed out.
It was the people of Chongsamling who asked him to run for the gup post, Hari Gurung said to this newspaper. Until recently, there was no candidate for the post of gup from Chongsamling.
Chongsamling has the lowest number of voters among the five chiwogs. This has left Hari Gurung worried. “Farmgaon has more voters, I need to concentrate my door-to-door campaign there,” he said.
During the chiwog zomdu, Hari Gurung defeated a woman gup contestant with 52 votes out of 78 cast. After resigning as an agriculture extension officer in 2000, Hari gurung has been working in the construction sector.
From Tsham-Zhi-Gosa (Devitar) chiwog, Surja Bahadur Limboo, 41, will contest for the gup seat in Lhamoizingkha gewog. He has 11 years of experience working in the fields of finance and accounts.
“Following consultations with the people I decided to contest,” he said, adding that this caused him to quit his job. “It is to serve the King, country, and people,” he said.
The race will be tight and Surja Bahadur Limboo said his only advice to voters is to choose the best of the five candidates.
He is currently campaigning door-to-door.
“I have been placing all my thoughts and strategies in the campaign,” he said. “However, it may not help those predetermined voters.”
He said people need flexibility in service delivery, which according to him would be one of his interests. As a gup, he said he would not mind conducting work outside the office if required.
Lobzang Jimba, 44 is representing Kuendrelthang (Majigaon) chiwog. He managed to secure 40 “yes” votes out of 57 cast.
Originally from Merak, Lobzang Jimba said he served as tshogpa there.
“Rather than expecting others to do for us, I want to do it myself,” he said. “I can serve this way if I am elected.”
Helping people affected by land erosion and connecting Pabji, a remote village will be Lobzang Jimba’s main objectives, if elected, he said. “All chiwogs have been affected by rivers,” he said, adding that this issue needs immediate attention.
Pabji once had 19 households. Today there are not more than 10. Lobzang Jimba attributed rural-urban migration and non-availability of facilities in Pabji, specifically, road connectivity.
He also wants to upgrade Lhamoizingkha Middle Secondary School.
Lhamoizingkha gewog’s former gup, Sherab Gyeltshen, is the fifth candidate in the race. Initially not declaring his candidacy, he changed his mind and is now re-contesting. During the zomdu in his chiwog, Loongsilsa (Daragaon), he defeated two other contestants securing 40 votes from 87.
“Although I have served five years, there are still incomplete works,” he said, pointing out that two years were spent on understanding people and their needs. “If elected, I will fulfill what is left over.”
Providing safe drinking water, irrigation channels, farm roads, and flood mitigation are some of his pledges. “I know what people need and I know what government policies are,” the former gup said. “I can serve better.”
Lhamoizingkha dungkhag in Dagana has 4,560 eligible voters in total.
Rajesh Rai | Lhamoizingkha
Supported by Bhutan Media Foundation and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation