LG: Candidates contesting in the upcoming local government  (LG) elections in Phuentsholing gewog, Chukha are keeping it simple during the common forums.

Strengthening existing facilities received in the 11th Five Year Plan (FYP), exploring plans for 12th FYP, and working together, were some of the key topics contestants spoke of at the two common forums in the chiwogs of Pachhu and Deling Marpji on September 9.

There are four contestants in the gup race and three mangmi contestants, two of whom are woman.

Former mangmi, Chandra Man Rai, a gup contestant said he will not promise anything to the people. “Whatever there is in the gewog today, it is what you all put up in the Plan,” he said. “The gup and mangmi just implemented after the proposals were passed and approved.”

Chandra Man Rai is from Lingden chiwog and has worked as a mangmi in the gewog since 2004. He also asked for forgiveness if he or the former gup had been harsh to people.

If development activities were missed in some places, people must not take it negatively, he said.  Decisions were made by the people in gewog tshogdes with tshogpas before being forwarded to higher authorities, he added.

“My village still doesn’t have road connectivity,” Chandra Man Rai said, adding that some complained that he could not do much as a mangmi for more than a decade.

Even if he is not elected as gup, Chandra Man Rai said he will still help those who require assistance.

Tek Bahadur Ghalley, a university graduate is another gup candidate. He is from Deling-Narpji chiwog. The IT graduate worked with Chiphen Rigphel for five years.

“I think we have everything in the gewog today,” Tek Bahadur Ghalley said. “We need to strengthen that.”

Meanwhile, it must be the people’s turn to see how they can help themselves and not just wait for the government every time, he said. People cannot always expect everything from the government, he added.

Cooperative farming and livestock activities, according to Tek Bahadur Ghalley are two areas where people can help themselves. “I think you all should even fix a particular date in a month to gather and discuss,” he said.

Tek Bahadur Ghalley said that working in groups towards achieving certain agricultural developments such as cooperative farming would be better. Unemployed youth will also be engaged, he added.

Doshing Lepcha, 45, from Pacchu chiwog is also contesting for the gup post. He has worked in the health sector for 20 years and thinks living standards of people still need to improve.

He added there are many developments to be brought such as roads and drinking water. “Our thoughts are same,” he said. “It is about development.”

Doshing Lepcha said that people should vote for the right person keeping in mind the development aspects.

From his side, Doshing Lepcha said he would find all possible means to take the gewog to greater heights, if elected.  He will always consult the people, he said.

Meanwhile, Phuentsholing gewog’s other university graduate gup contestant is Birkha Bahadur Rai. He said there is nothing much to do in the 11th FYP. “But our opportunity is with the 12th Plan,” he said. “I will look into that if I am elected.”

From drinking water to road connectivity, Birkha Bahadur Rai said everything could be achieved. He is now  more keen to serve the people.

He also talked about cooperative farming and youth employment. It would be better to have youth in villages engaged in productive farming rather than moving to the cities, he said.

“I have also stayed in my village after graduation” Birkha Bahadur Rai said. “I have done the same village works like you all do.”

All the four gup contestants in Phuentsholing gewog won with large margins in the chiwog zomdus.

A villager from Darjaygaon, Pema, 44, said it would be a hard choosing from the contestants.

“But I will choose the one who can bring better road and drinking water facilities in Darjaygaon,” he said.

Others shared his sentiments.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

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