Now lone candidate Uttar Rai will be elected based on “yes” and “no” votes

Election: With just two days left for the poll day, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) disqualified former Phuentsholing thrompon, Tsheten Dorji from contesting for a second term.

Some informants tipped off  ECB that the former thrompon had a business licence on his name.

This happened after the ECB verified and made public the asset declaration forms of the candidates.

The allegation turned out to be true when the returning officer cross-checked with the trade department. “Some people complained to us that he was holding a license,” Returning Officer Dr Jambay Dorjee said. The returning officer then called the thrompon candidate in his office to inform about the issue on January 20.

Tsheten Dorji then rushed to the Phuentsholing trade office and cancelled the license. However, there was nothing he could do to avoid the cancellation of his nomination.

Having a business license is tantamount to holding an office of profit. According to election laws,  licenses should be surrendered before filing the nomination of candidates.

Tsheten Dorji accepted that he himself was to be blamed for the turn of events. “It was my fault, because the license was in my name,” he said.

Tsheten Dorji had the license in his name even when he contested in the first thrompon election in 2011. However, he said that he was not operating any business with the license.

Tsheten Dorji said he had “gifted” it to one of his employees in 2009 but had not transferred the ownership. He said it was a “general store” license for garments and shoes.

Officiating director of electoral registration and delimitation, Sonam Tobgay, said the issue will not end with the disqualification. He said relevant stakeholders should take up the issue for further action.

“We didn’t know about the issue as he did not declare it during the asset declaration time,” he said. “As per our electoral laws, no candidate should hold business license,” he said.

The election Act prescribes that no person seeking election as member of Parliament or a Local Government shall, at the time of filing nomination as candidate for such election, be the holder of any office of profit, nor shall such person, if elected, hold any office of profit so long as he/she continues as a member of Parliament or a Local Government.

The ECB also issued a notification yesterday stating that it found that the nomination documents included false declaration and of a non-permissible valid business license.

Meanwhile, the turn of events has enhanced Uttar Kumar Rai’s chances of becoming the second thrompon of Phuentsholing as he will be voted on a “yes” or “no” voting system.

There are no postal ballots to be counted in the Phuentsholing thromde. Sonam Tobgay said a female voter had availed her postal ballot, but later applied to the returning officer that she wanted to vote in person.

MB Subba