The National Observer (NO) of Nanong-Shumar constituency in Pemagatshel has reported to the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) that it found the president of People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) Tshering Tobgay campaigning after 6pm on September 4.

The NO also reported to the ECB that the party was found organising dinner while campaigning between 7pm to 9pm.

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s candidate from Nanong-Shumar constituency, Pema Wangda, said that he heard about the issue although he was doing door-to-door campaign in other chiwogs.

He added that the returning officer (RO) had made clear in every common forum that candidates couldn’t campaign after 6pm.“I also heard that about 10 people from Zobel gewog attended the dinner and if it’s true, the ECB should take action,” Pema Wangda said. “Since the NO has reported the issue to the ECB, we are hoping that the ECB will take action.” 

Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party’s (BKP) dzongkhag coordinator, Sergi Jamtsho, said: “We have no complaints but since the NO has reported the matter to the ECB, we hope the commission will take necessary action.”

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s (DPT) general secretary, Sangay Phurba, said he was not aware of the issue as he was in Thimphu. “The case might be genuine as it was reported by the NO and ECB should take action.”

PDP’s dzongkhag coordinator, Sonam, said the party’s tshogpas had gathered and arranged a dinner for the president. “But we forgot to keep track of time and do not deny that incidents occurred,” he said.

He said that there were about 50 people during the dinner but they were all cardholders and were registered with the ECB as party supporters. “I hear that if none of the party candidates file a complaint, ECB will not accept the issue,” Sonam said.

ECB’s spokesperson Sonam Tobgyal said that until September 4, the commission did consider requests to extend the time by 10-15 minutes for party presidents to address the gathering. There were cases of roadblocks and the presidents who were travelling were affected.  But since this left room for some to hold new meetings, the commission on September 5 instructed all ROs that no new meetings should take place after 6pm.  

The issue in this case, he said, was the allegation of food being served and that it was allowed to hold meetings and serve food with registered party members.

Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar