Not a single postal ballot was availed in the election

Election: The lone candidate, who contested for the post of Mongar gup in the bye-election yesterday, was not elected.

Tshewang Dorji, 32, returned home disappointed, when it was announced that by 23 ‘No’ votes on the EVM, he had lost the election.  He received 308 ‘Yes’ votes and 331 ‘No’ votes.

The former caretaker of Mongar gewog administration, Tshewang Dorji, said that he had nothing against the people for not electing him, but that the bye-election’s results would have been fair if postal ballots were used.

“The bye-election was unfair without postal ballots,” he said. “I don’t understand why the duration for postal ballot facility isn’t the same for local government elections and other elections.”

The bye-election is conducted as per section 577 of the Election Act, which states that “the election commission shall, when the seat of a member elected to any house of parliament or local government becomes vacant on death or resignation or his/her election to the house is declared void, issue a notification calling upon the constituency concerned to elect a person to fill the vacant post.”

Dzongkhag election officer (DEO), Sangay Dorji, said that he had no authority to change anything but to follow the notification issued by the commission.  He said the whole process of holding a bye-election had to be completed within a month, during which he received no applications for postal ballot.

As per the January 23 notification from ECB, eligible postal ballot voters were given two weeks to initiate application for the postal ballot to the returning officer.

But yesterday’s election, conducted at a cost of Nu 382,200, saw a poor voter turnout in all its six polling stations.  Of the 3,335 registered eligible voters, only 639, about five percent, turned up to cast their votes.  He received 82 ‘No’ votes from his chiwog, Photshorong, and 116 ‘Yes’ votes.

One of the voters, a 23-year old woman, said the candidate has already contested in the 2011 gup election from Silambi gewog and lost. “It shows that he doesn’t have the capability to be a gup,” she said.

But a 34-year old mother of one from Kedikhar village said she voted for him, thinking he would help the community like the former gup. “It’s better to have a gup than to keep the post vacant,” she said.

The election was held following the death of the former gup Dechen Yeshi in a car accident on January 8 this year. “As per the act, a by-election to fill any vacancy shall be held within a period of ninety days and, for local governments, it shall be held within a period of thirty days from the date of occurrence of the vacancy,” DEO Sangay Dorji.

The election petition period begins today.  The declaration of results and submission of results to the Druk Gyalpo will also be done today.

On January 25, of the three candidates from Photshogrong chiwog, Tshewang Dorji was selected with 76 ‘Yes’ votes to contest for the post.  The other nominees, Tshewang Penjor from Wengkhar-Yagpogang chiwog, was disqualified for filing his nomination late, while Sherab Tenzin from Kidekhar chiwog was short by three weeks to complete a year after he transferred his census.

After completing class X from Gyalpoizhing higher secondary school (HSS), Tshewang Dorji, worked as a messenger for Mongar HSS from 2006 to 2011.  From 2012 until his resignation this year, he worked as a caretaker.

By Tashi Phuntsho, Mongar