LG: As local government (LG) elections near, five gup aspirants are giving the people Samar gewog in Haa tough choices.

It could be anybody’s game, especially when even the former gup who also served as the chairman of the dzongkhag tshogde (DT) looks apprehensive about his chances of being reelected this time.

The 42-year-old former gup and DT chairman, Tshewang Tandin, served for two terms. “I have no high hopes this time,” he said, adding that the competition is stiff with capable candidates.

Despite the competition, he said his candidature is essential to offer a different choice to the people.“I am neither too old nor too young, but I have served the people for the last 10 years and so I have the experience,” he said.

Tshewang Tandin’s contribution includes construction of farm roads connecting almost every village and supply of safe drinking water. “I did everything for the welfare of the people,” he added.

Although roads have been constructed, he said a lot remains to be done to make it sustainable. He said that he is in the best position to complete all the pending tasks.

Tshewang Tobgay, 33, another gup aspirant, also comes with 10 years of experience in serving in the local government. After completing class 12 in 2004, he served as a geydrung in the gewog for five years from where he was elected to the post of mangmi and completed his term only recently.

“If people cast their votes based on the candidate’s capability instead of giving the votes based on relation, I stand a good chance of winning,” he said.

If Tshewang Tobgay gets elected, he said he will bring about more transparency as to where funds are being spent and ensure that all plans formulated from the gewog are beneficial to the people and are not influenced by money and muscle.

Bringing a different perspective to the local government, Nidup Dorji, 31, who worked as a marketing executive in a few media houses, is back home vying for the gup’s post. He has even acted in a few movies

He said he wants to be the change to unite the people who are otherwise divided by political affiliations.

“Making people understand the vital role of local government is essential,” he said, adding that he wishes to bring about improvement in the service delivery. “I have acted in two movies, Drazin Lhamo and Sacho Gamiga, and people recognise me through that.”

Nidup Dorji is already reaching out to the educated lot residing outside the dzongkhag through social media.

Sangay Dorji, another gup aspirant, is participating in the election to show the youth that there are opportunities in the villages and to encourage them. A class 10 graduate, he stayed in his village doing farm works. “I mingle with the villagers everyday and understand their problems better.”

Fighting the odds, Sonam Dema, 39, is the only woman candidate battling for votes against four male candidates.

This is her second time contesting for the same post. “In 2011, people in the villages were not aware of how women participation could influence the decision-making process,” she said. Now with education and awareness programmes, she said that people understand the value of women empowerment. “Hopefully this will translate into votes.”

For a woman who always wanted to be a leader, Sonam Dema is pitching her candidature to achieve transparency and accountability.

Tshering Dorji | Haa

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