LG: It’s 6:30pm in Lemjakha village in Toedpaisa. Except for dogs barking and insects chirping, the village is silent.

The village has basic amenities. All the houses are connected with electricity and fitted with water taps. Motorable roads connect every village to the main highway.

It’s only rural-urban migration that plagues the villages. Most of the large traditional houses in the gewog have only around two occupants each.

A villager, Damcho Penjor said asking children to stay in the villages is almost impossible. “Many of the parents have also left the villages along with their children,” he said. “For us we don’t have an option. If we leave this place, we lose everything.”

The growing rural-urban migration issue will soon be addressed, according to Namgyel Tenzin, a former monk. He is one of the five aspiring gup candidates from Toedpaisa gewog.

Speaking to the people of Goenmkha-Mendrelgang at the common forum yesterday, the 36-year-old from Dochola-Maenchhuna chiwog plans to generate employment in agriculture for the unemployed youth of the gewog.

Namgyel Tenzin said that he wants to focus on agriculture in the gewog and promote agricultural products and achieve food self-sufficiency in the country.

Contesting against him is former mangmi of Goenmkha-Mendrelgang, Gyem Tshering. After serving as a monk for 19 years, the 46-year-old resigned and contested in the first local government elections in 2011.

“As a mangmi, I did a lot of things for the betterment of the people but there are many things that I still need to do for my people,” he said.

Gem Tshering said if people elect him as their gup, he would solve environmental issues and deploy a compactor truck for proper waste management in the gewog.

Similarly, Sangay, 55, from Bichhekha-Yuel Hamo is contesting for the post of gup. He is contesting for the second time.

After an unsuccessful effort during the first attempt, the former mangmi is confident to win this time. “I’ve served my people for many years in various capacities. They know who has the capability to take our gewog to another level,” he said.

After serving as a monk for more than 30 years, Sangay said he values the importance of education and wants to set up a higher secondary school in the gewog. “For almost 55 years now, we still don’t have a higher secondary school,” he said. “For an important place like Thinleygang, located between Thimphu and Punakha, it is a must to have one higher secondary school.”

The fourth candidate is Tshering Penjor, 30, from Lemjakha-Thinleygang. He taught the monastic school in Wangdue for five years.

Of the five gup candidates, Tshering Penjor is the only candidate without a monastic education.

Tshering Penjor’s pledges were similar to the other contestants.

Dorji Penjor, 31, is contesting from Damkhyi-Rinakha chiwog. The former monk, who worked as a taxi driver for three years, said he is contesting for the post of gup this year because he believes he can contribute to the development of the gewog.

Toedpaisa gewog has a total of 1,951 eligible voters.

Younten Tshedup | Punakha

Supported by Bhutan Media Foundation and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation