There were nine candidates in the race

Tirtha Man Rai from Dumtoe gewog won a seat in the National Council from Samtse, the second largest dzongkhag after Trashigang, with a comfortable margin yesterday. 

The 31-year-old garnered 6,243 votes, including 966 postal ballots. 

Tirtha Man Rai worked as a teacher for three years before settling in his village. 

Although he was unavailable for comments despite repeated attempts by Kuensel, he has pledged in his manifesto to ensure that the formulation, implementation and review of all laws, policies and programmes are directed towards the empowerment of the Bhutanese.

His closest rival DK Ghalley from Pemaling gewog, also a former teacher, secured 4,829 votes, including 902 postal ballots followed by Ugyen Lama, who won 4,324, including 471 postal ballots. 

Ngawang Nidup from the Samtse throm came fourth with 2,045 votes, including 571 postal ballots, while Samten Lepcha of Samtse gewog stood fifth with 1,833 votes, including 342 postal ballots.

Badrinath Bhattarai from Sangngachholing gewog secured the sixth place with 1,826 votes, including 470 postal ballots. Shadeo Rai from Tendruk gewog garnered 1,758 votes, including 245 postal ballots and Chhatrapati Phuyel from Dophuchen gewog secured 1,289, including 370 postal ballots. 

Narayan Dahal from Yoseltse gewog secured 800 votes, including 107 postal ballots, the least in terms of both EVM and postal ballots. 

The voter turnout in Samtse was 53.3 percent. This means that a total of 24,947 out of 46,781 eligible voters from the dzongkhag voted for the nine candidates. 

The votes counted include 20,503 EVM votes and 4,444 postal ballots. 

In all, the dzongkhag received 4,659 postal ballots, out of which 177 were rejected and 38 were invalid. 

The invalid ballots included those that contained postal ballots for Dagana and Sarpang. Some voters had not ticked for any of the candidates, while others had selected more than one candidate rendering them invalid.

The postal ballots were counted and verified in front of the observers and the candidates.  

Electoral officer of Samtse, Tshering Phuntsho, said that the election was conducted without any problems. “The election was held smoothly and successfully. No issues were reported from any gewogs,” he said.  

A voter from Samtse throm, Dawa Dem, said that she took the election seriously, stating that it was important to choose a capable candidate. “I came forward to vote early with eagerness,” she said. 

Amid tight security along the border, the election concluded without any hiccups, according to election officials here. The Election Commission of Bhutan deployed 410 officials to 68 polling stations across the dzongkhag. 

There are 15 gewogs in the dzongkhag, but six gewogs did not have a candidate. Incumbent Sangay Khandu did not contest.  

MB Subba | Samtse