With only a day left for the campaign to end and before the two-day black out period, National Council candidates in Sarpang are seeking support from their respective gewogs and running around villages to meet as many people as possible.
Unlike in the past, where voters complained of zomdu fatigue, the candidates this time are worried about not being able to meet as many people.
Candidates say that since Sarpang is a large dzongkhag with 12 gewogs, the campaign period left them with little time to conduct door-to-door campaigning.
Jigmecholing gewog NC candidate, Tshering Penjor, said although he started his door-to-door campaign since April 7, he could not reach some villages in three gewogs. “It is tough.”
Another candidate, Ugyen Tshering of Shompangkha gewog, said he could not reach all places for familiarisation since he came in late to contest for the elections.
Serzhong gewog candidate, Pema Tashi, said he could not visit as many places but was satisfied with the coverage. “We’ll have to manage,” he said.
For the incumbent, Dhan Bdr Monger from Dekiling gewog, the law didn’t permit him to campaign until the completion of the gewog dhamngoi zomdu on March 10.
“People know me but I need to get to as many as possible to inform them about my pledges,” he said.
Gelephu throm candidate, Tshering Norbu, said although he started his familiarisation trip since January and went to all the gewogs, he still couldn’t visit all the chiwogs.
Candidates said that door-to-door campaign was much effective than the common forum meetings.
“The scenario in our dzongkhag is different from other parts of the country as people still have trouble communicating in the national language,” one of the candidates said.
The other issue with the candidates is the difficulty in appointing their polling station representative.
“People think if they become a representative, they will be branded of favouring a particular candidate. So they prefer not to become one,” the candidate from Gakiling, Anand Rai, said.
Candidates, however, are not troubled by it.
Khari Lal Gurung, the candidate from Chuzangang, said appointing more representatives means more costs.
“I hire a vehicle to visit the gewogs and it adds to the costs to even hire another person to accompany,” he said.
Sarpang election officer, Sonam Wangda, said the turnout to the common forum meetings was about 50 percent of the resident population.
“From most households, only one representative came to attend the meetings,” he said.
Candidates said that if possible, common forums should be taken to the chiwog level for wider reach.
“If we can’t cover as much as possible, how will people make informed decisions,” another candidate said.
Meanwhile, 161 officials will leave for their polling stations today. They completed the two-day refreshers’ course at the returning officer’s office based in the Gelephu gewog office yesterday.
A total of 3,074 voters are registered to vote at the postal ballot facilitation booths in the dzongkhag. Sarpang has 29,789 registered voters of which more than half are women.
Tshering Palden | Gelephu