Younten Tshedup 

The hunt for candidates to replace two vacant National Assembly seats for Mongar and Nganglam constituencies has gained momentum after the Speaker wrote to the Election Commission of Bhutan to fill the seats.

The seat for Mongar constituency was declared vacant as per National Assembly Act 2008 after former Home Minister Sherub Gyeltshen formally resigned yesterday. The seat for Nganglam constituency is also vacant, following the demise of late MP Choida Jamtsho last month.

Even before the resignation of Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen, rumours were rife that former Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) MP and candidate, Karma Lhamo, would replace the former minister in Mongar as Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s (DNT) candidate.

Her supporters in Mongar Kuensel spoke to said that it would be a ‘wise’ decision if Karma Lhamo joined DNT. “While we know the popularity and potential of our candidate, it is always an advantage to be on the side of the ruling government,” said a supporter who requested anonymity.

He said that words going around in the constituency was that Karma Lhamo would be representing DNT during the upcoming bye-election.

Karma Lhamo however said that it was too early to make any comments for now and nothing was finalised. Speaking to Kuensel, the former Member of Parliament from Mongar said that she did receive ‘informal’ offers from senior DNT members to join the party. “However, there is nothing official for now.”

Some of her supporters in Mongar said that Karma Lhamo was currently in the process of seeking advice from her core support groups who had been with her since the beginning of her political career.

Karma Lhamo deregistered from DPT in 2019 after she lost to DNT’s Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen during the 2018 general elections.

Party officials meanwhile, said that they still had not finalised on a candidate to represent during the upcoming bye-elections.

DNT’s general secretary, Phurba, said that the party has not been able to conduct its executive committee’s meeting due to the pandemic. “Also, it would be morally wrong to be declaring new candidates just a day after Lyonpo resigned.”

Phurba said that he had appraised all executive members of the party including Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, who is also its president, that they would need to identify the candidates soon.

“We’ll have to consider all aspects before finalising our candidates and see his or her potential to win. But more than winning, we will have to see how the candidate would be able to contribute to nation building.”

Similarly, the general secretary said that they have not yet finalised a candidate to represent the party for the Nganglam constituency.

“I have spoken to Karma Dorji, who was our candidate during the general elections and also a founding member of the party. However, he has not confirmed his participation yet,” he said, adding that they should be able to finalise the candidates within the next two weeks.

DPT’s Member of Parliament from Bartsham-Shongphu, Passang Dorji (PhD), said that the party was yet to finalise their candidate for the Mongar constituency.  “Consultations with a few potential candidates and the constituents are on. Interests of our people of the constituency are the core determinants of choosing the candidate. We’ll declare after completing the procedures of the party.”

For Nganglam constituency, Passang Dorji said, “Out of respect for our late colleague, the party decided not to discuss the candidate for Nganglam constituency until the completion of his 21-day funeral rites. We’re still mourning.”

DPT’s Member of Parliament from Nganglam, Choida Jamtsho, died on the night of April 18 after consuming a curry made of some wild plant in Baelangdra, Wangdue.