LG: The local government (LG) election in 2011 changed Sukh Bahadur Subba’s life forever. The 39-year-old wanted to run for the tshogpa post in his chiwog, Tshamzhina of Lhamoizingkha dungkhag, Dagana but he failed in the Functional Literacy Test (FLT).

Although a Class III dropout, his proficiency in Dzongkha was poor. But he took it as a challenge. He joined and completed three years of Non Formal Education (NFE), passed the FLT this year, and got the opportunity to represent his chiwog.

“I joined NFE only to learn my national language,” he said, adding that his main aim was to run for the tshogpa post in the upcoming LG election. “I am so glad I made it through the test this time.”

Sukh Bahadur Subba said that if the NFE programme had not been available, he would have not made it this far.

“Even if I lose this time, I will try again another time,” Sukh Bahadur Subba said.

There are two other tshogpa contestants who are equally willing and able. They are also NFE graduates.

Kirshna Prasad Subba never thought the NFE would be so useful. It was in 2011 when he contested for the tshogpa position in Tshamzhina that his education was put to use.

“Although I did not plan to contest when I enrolled in NFE, it is this education program that has given me the opportunity to participate today,” the 38-year-old said.

Krishna Prasad Subba, however, did not win during the 2011 elections. He is hoping he will make it this time.

“I am confident,” he said. “I understand tshogpa is a key position that bridges the gewog administration and people’s requirements.”

However, if he loses on September 27, Krishna Prasad Subba said it would be time for him to wrap up and move on in life. Losing again, he said would mean the people do not want him as their tshogpa.

Poor drinking water supply is the main issue, Krishna Prasad Subba and Sukh Bahadur Subba said that exists today in their chiwog. The duo said they would solve this issue first, if elected as tshogpa.

Former tshogpa Santa Kumar Gurung is Tshamzhina’s third tshogpa aspirant. He spoke about the drinking water problem.

“It is not that we have not raised this issue,” he said. “We did whatever that could be done.”

Santa Kumar Gurung said the water source in their chiwog was small and dried up easily. It was also affected by earthquake and floods, he added.

Except for two villages, Kharbandi and Changeytar, Santa Kumar Gurung said other villages did not have problems with drinking water connections. However, the maintenance budget has been put in the Plan for Kharbandi and Changeytar, he added.

About contesting this time, Santa Kumar Gurung said that the last five years as tshogpa, was a learning experience.

“From now, it would be to deliver more,” he said. “If I have served good enough, people should vote for me.”

Santa Kumar Gurung, 31, is the youngest tshgopa contestant in Tshamzhina. He is also an NFE alumnus who graduated together with Krishna Prasad Subba.

“Without NFE I would not be a tshogpa,” he said. “I have no formal education background.”

Rajesh Rai | Lhamoizingkha

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