Choki Wangmo | Tsirang

Gup candidates contesting in the upcoming local government (LG) elections in Dagana pledged to boost the local economy by optimising agriculture and livestock production.

The candidates made the pledges to the villagers in the common forums. Their main focus was on food sufficiency.

Out of the 13 former gups who contested again, only eight made it through qualifying in the dhamngoi zomdus.

They claimed that with their experience, they are ready to carry out the planned developmental activities in their gewogs.

“I would be able to provide better public service if elected for the position again,” one former gup said.

While some pledged to provide proper road connectivity to all the chiwogs, addressing challenges due to water shortages is a priority for aspiring candidates in Gozhi gewog.

Residents said that with the rapid drying up of water sources and lakes in the gewog, they are facing more severe drinking and irrigation water shortages by the year.

Former Tseza gup Phurba, who was nominated from the dhamngoi zomdu in Tashigang chiwog, said that if re-elected, he would work on completing the Peling-Kamichu secondary highway construction. If completed, the highway is expected to reduce travelling time by two hours from Dagana to Kamichhu in Wangdue.

The gewog has nominated four gup candidates.

“Two chiwogs in the gewog face severe drinking water issues with rapid drying up of sources. It needs immediate intervention,” he said.

Former Larjab gup Dhan Bahadur Gurung, who was also selected from the zomdu, said his focus would be on local economic development, blacktopping the gewog centre road, ensuring sustainable water supply, and food security in the gewog through enhanced agriculture and livestock production.

The gewog has three gup and mangmi candidates and 13 tshogpa candidates. Four female candidates are competing for tshogpa position, but no women sought candidacy for the gup and mangmi positions.

Kinley Namgay, an aspiring mangmi candidate from Balung chiwog who is competing against two other contenders from Larjab gewog, said that with the support of other LG members, he would judiciously use funds for planned developmental activities.

He also pledged to play the role of a mediator in solving social and domestic issues such as misunderstandings and disputes.

Since his chiwog is one of the least developed chiwogs that is remotely located in the gewog, his focus is developing the chiwog by employing young people, especially school dropouts, in agriculture and livestock production.

Bali Raj Gurung is a former employee of Punatsangchhu Hydropower Project who is contesting for the gup position from Khebisa gewog. He said that if he is elected, his focus will be on optimising commercial agriculture and livestock to help the local economy.

This, he said, would be implemented through entrepreneurship courses to retain people in the villages and reduce the rate of rural-urban migration.

Tsendagang gewog’s aspiring gup candidate, Sonam Dorji, who has 15 years’ experience in the hospitality and construction sectors, said his priority would be on youth engagement activities by using the community centres.

He also pledged to properly manage and maintain irrigation and drinking water sources to reduce the problem of water shortages.

There are three aspiring gup candidates from the gewog.

Gup candidate from Nichula gewog, Dilip Kumar Gurung, said that since his gewog remains cut off from other gewogs during the monsoon, construction of a bridge over the Sunkosh river from Sanguri to Karmaling gewog requires urgent action.

“We also need health staff in Nichula gewog during monsoon for four months,” he said, adding that the construction of ropeways would be another alternative for the gewog to remain connected.

Out of 44 aspiring gup candidates who were selected through the zomdus, one is female.

Only one of the two former female gups made it through the zomdu. Former Tashiding gup Namgay Peldon is re-contesting while Pema Wangmo Tamang from Geserling gewog couldn’t make it through the dhamngoi zomdu.

For the mangmi post, there are 44 candidates—three of whom are females—vying for the position.

There are 151 male and 21 female tshogpa candidates from 14 gewogs and 70 chiwogs in the dzongkhag.