Chencho Dema


Punakha —The alternative polling station is far away from the temporary winter residence, say residents of Lunana and Laya, who, keeping with the tradition, have migrated to warmer Punakha and Wangdue.

The polling station established at Goenshari Primary School, on the request of the Dzongkhag Election Authority, to enable voting for those who have already migrated, is about 28 km from Khuruthang town and 23km from Mochhu car park near the dzong. Whereas, most highlanders are said to be residing scattered in Punakha, while a few lived in Wangdue.

Therefore, the 174 voters from Lunana, and 479 voters from Laya, registered to cast their votes in Goenshari polling station were now requesting the polling station be shifted to Khuruthang.

The Lunana Gup, Kaka, said that he agreed with the public that the voting place was far away, posing a challenge especially for the elderly voters.

“Some Lunaps are unable to travel in cars, so they instead walk all the way to Khuruthang town on weekends to shop. It will be unimaginable for them to walk all the way to Goensari and vote,” he said. “They may even choose not to vote.”

“It wouldn’t be an issue for younger voters, but it would be challenging for older ones,” said  Kinley Dorji, 41.

“I am concerned about the wild animals if I have to walk back after casting my ballot because the polling station is located in a remote place surrounded by forest,” he continued.

Meanwhile, 22-year-old, Sangay Tshering was worried about his own horses.

“I can’t afford to leave the horses alone because they might wander into other people’s farms or onto the road. I have to look out for my horses and ensure they don’t ruin other people’s property,” he said.

A 20-year old Lunana resident, Pema, said they may not be able to find transportation to the polling station.

Lunana has 599 total registered voters, while Laya has 763 registered voters. There are no registered voters with disabilities (PWDs) in both the gewogs. Lunana has 24 and Laya has 29 registered postal ballots for in-country while they had no registered voters for overseas.

About 70 percent of the residents of Lunana had arrived in Punakha for their winter residence, while a majority of Layaps had travelled to India for pilgrimage and would return on January 5.

Polling stations are already set up in Lunana and Laya, while the Goensahri station was an addition for the migratory population.

According to the DEA, Goenshari polling was close to Gasa, making it possible for election officials to travel there to monitor. It was not considered to be too far away for voters or election officials.

40 year-old Pema Drukpa, who served as the Project Manager with TransBhutan Trail, and as an MP from 2013 to 2018 of Khamaed-Lunana will representing PDP from Khamaed-Lunana, while Lhaba Lhaba, 30,  will represent the PDP from the Khatoed-Laya. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Gedu College of Business Studies, and was a procurement officer for Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law.


The BTP candidate for

Khamaed-Lunana is 31-year old Dhendup, who 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.

Ugyen Dem, 30, is the only female candidate, and contested for BTP from Khatoed-Laya constituency. She has Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Dzongkha and served as a teacher for five years prior to working as a researcher at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.