A candidate, Passang Thrinlee, who had contested in the recent National Council elections from Wangdue, moved the High Court yesterday to investigate alleged corrupt practices during the election. 

Passang Thrinlee alleged that Gase Tshogom gup Kinley Gyeltshen, who was the uncle of incumbent NC member Tashi Dorji’s wife, had violated the rules by staying at the polling station, which was set up in the gewog centre, the whole day until the counting of the votes was complete.

He said that the local government officials have to be apolitical and cannot involve in the parliamentary elections and that no one is allowed to remain within 50 metres of the polling station. 

He asked the court to investigate the matter as he suspected corruption and malpractice. 

Similarly, a tshogpa of the gewog Pema Dorji had remained at the polling station at Changchey Masapokto the whole day with the polling officials. 

“Pema Dorji was taking pictures of voters and when asked why he was taking pictures, he had said that he has to send somewhere,” Passang Thrinlee’s petition to the High Court stated. 

Passang Thrinlee alleged that candidate representatives were asked to leave the polling station after 5pm and were not allowed to observe the counting of votes. “They were told that rules have changed and that they can watch the election results on television,” the petition letter stated. 

He alleged that the voting results with the returning officer showed that 181 voters voted at the polling station, while the total votes cast was reflected as 196. 

“This is shocking and I request the court to investigate,” he submitted. 

He also alleged that Tashi Dorji had visited Rinchengang chiwog, where the community was performing rituals for the local deity on March 31, and gave Nu 10,000 saying that from April 1 he is not allowed to give anything. 

“While giving the money is okay, giving it when the elections are drawing close is corruption,” Passang Thrinlee alleged. 

Passang Thrinlee submitted that after Tashi Dorji was elected in 2013, he had formed an association, Rada Phendey Tshogpa and gave it a Bolero utility vehicle. He had also given a statue to each gewog office. 

“If he had given them not to garner support in elections, then it’s ok but he had been mentioning these in his campaign,” he submitted. 

Passang Thrinlee, in the letter, said that monks who managed the committee had told the beneficiaries explicitly that bolero service and semsowas from Tashi Dorji. “The election was therefore not fair,” he stated. 

He stated that other candidates have raised their concerns on the issue during the campaign period. 

According to him, Anti-Corruption Commission had stated that Tashi Dorji had given the bolero but not during the campaign period and saw no issue. “It’s not a good precedence as future candidates would resort to similar tactics and would be construed legal,” he submitted. 

Passang Thrinlee said that it was important to prevent violations of election rules, as such practice would have huge implications. 

He said that the ACC Act states that it’s corruption if a public servant gives any properties to other public servants for future gains.  

Of the five candidates, Tashi Dorji was re-elected as Wangdue’s NC member with 4,995 votes. Passang Thrinlee from Bjena gewog got 3,751 votes. 

Tashi Dorji said that he was unaware of the petition. “It’s his right to petition and I would comment only if the court asks me to,” he said. 

Tshering Palden