Chencho Dema

Punakha- Predicting an election win in Gasa is difficult as it is known to spring surprises like in the past elections since 2013. 

For now, it is difficult to ascertain whether Bhutan Tendrel Party or People’s Democratic Party will win the January 9 elections.

Voters from Lunana and Laya, who had travelled to Punakha for the winter, said they had voted in the past based on the candidate’s biography, while other voters said they felt it was important to give new parties a chance.

In the fourth National Assembly primary elections, which was held on November 30, registered voters in Gasa supported Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa in Khatoed-Laya and the BTP in Khamaed-Lunana.

To reserve the seat from the Khamaed-Lunana constituency, BTP secured 275 votes from both electronic voting machines and postal ballots while the PDP closely followed with 271 votes. The constituency comprises 1,175 registered voters, 536 males and 639 females, including 165 who were registered for in-country postal ballots.

DNT won with 322 votes, followed by PDP in second place with 218 votes in the Khatoed-Laya constituency with 1,125 registered voters, 554 males and 571 females.

There were five political parties, BTP, DNT, DPT, Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa and PDP contesting in the primary election.

Meanwhile, in 2018, DNT and PDP had a close race. PDP won majority of the votes from both EVM and Postal ballots in Khamaed-Lunana constituency. The party secured 274 EVM votes and DNT secured 155. 

Out of the 115 votes cast in Khatoed-Laya, PDP received 63 postal ballot votes, while DNT received 31. However, the EVM votes were crucial to DNT’s victory in the constituency, as the party obtained 376 votes while PDP received 215.

In the 2018 election, Gasa had 1,814 registered voters. Four political parties, the Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party, DNT, PDP, and DPT, participated in the election.

In the 2013 election, PDP was the preferred party in Khatoe-Laya and DPT won in Khamaed-Lunana constituency. DPT secured a total of 586 votes, with PDP coming in second place with 504 votes. Of the 1,842 eligible voters in Gasa, 1,371 votes were cast. 

A total of four parties contested in the 2013 primary elections which included Druk Chirwang Tshogpa, DNT, PDP and DPT.   DPT prevailed in Khamaed-Lunana constituency while the voters of Khatoed Laya constituency favoured PDP.

Representing PDP from Khamaed-Lunana this time is Pema Drukpa, 40-year-old who served as the Project Manager with TransBhutan Trail and served as an MP from 2013 to 2018.

The 29-year-old, Lhaba Lhaba will represent the PDP from the Khatoed-Laya constituency in Gasa. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Gedu College of Business Studies and prior to joining the party, he was running a restaurant in Thimphu.

Dhendup, 31, the BTP candidate for Khamaed-Lunana, graduated from Royal Thimphu College with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and economics. In 2018, he contested as the DPT candidate as well. He worked as a private businessman and social worker.  

With over five years of teaching experience and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Dzongkha, Ugyen Dem, the lone female candidate, 30, will represent the Khatoed-Laya seat. She also spent six months in 2017 working as a researcher in the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.  

Gasa, despite being a small district with a lower population than other districts in the country, has continuously offered female candidates.