It was no surprise when Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) swept both the constituencies of Sarpang in the general election yesterday.

In Gelephu constituency, DNT’s Karma D Wangdi won 6,691 votes on the EVM and postal ballots to beat Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s candidate (DPT) Pema Tashi. The DPT candidate secured 5,433 votes, 3,368 EVM votes and 2,065 postal ballots.

Karma D Wangdi, 47, secured 4,274 EVM votes and 2,417 postal ballots.

This will be a second stint as a Member of Parliament for Karma D Wangdi, who served as a member of National Council from 2008 to 2013. He contested on a DPT ticket in 2013 National Assembly election and lost.

After winning the election, Karma D Wangdi told Kuensel that he would like to thank his supporters and voters for electing him to Parliament.

“I also thank the people of Gelephu for the trust and confidence in our party as the next government. I would give my 100 percent to serve the people of my constituency,” he said.

Pema Tashi, 33, thanked his supporters and party workers for the votes he received. “It’s the will of the people, which I respect,” he said.

The DPT candidate said he would contest again given his young age.  “I would like to congratulate the DNT candidate for the win,” he told Kuensel.

In Sarpang’s Shompangkha constituency, DNT’s Tek Bdr Rai, 40, won by a wide margin. He was considered a favourite to win the race by many in the dzongkhag.

DPT’s Deo Kumar Rimal, 34, secured 2,862 votes – 2,117 EVM votes and 745 postal ballots. Including 5,393 EVM votes and 1,623 postal ballots, Tek Bdr Rai won 7,018 votes to earn his first stint as a member of National Assembly.

He is a civil engineer and worked as project engineer before jumping into the political fray. The DPT candidate is a former IT professional and businessperson.

After the provisional results were declared, Deo Kumar Rimal said he would like to thank all the well wishers of both DNT and DPT. He said he respected the people’s choice and congratulated the MP-elect Tek Bdr Rai from the constituency.

Tek Bdr Rai said that the result was the outcome of party workers who had worked hard for him and the party. “We have more poor than rich people. People voted for change and their health, as health was one of people’s main issues in our manifesto,” he said.

Meanwhile, the election in Sarpang was held amid a festive mood. Many voters who had travelled from other dzongkhags said they could enjoy Dassain as well as vote for the candidate of their choice.

A voter, Migma Tamang from Shompangkha gewog said it was a memorable experience to vote in the 2018 general election. She had travelled from Phuentsholing to vote and celebrate Dasain with her family.

It was observed that most of the voters who had come out to vote were talking more about Dassain than the election. Passang Tamang, 34, from Sarpang said the election provided a chance to meet relatives and friends who live in different parts of the country.

“My uncles have come from Paro. They will vote as well as celebrate Dassain with the family,” he said.

He said he would like to see the new government solve issues faced by the people of Sarpang. “Census and land are major problems faced by the people in Sarpang,” he said.

Passang Tamang said irrigation and drinking water were also issues in the dzongkhag. “We have paddy fields but no water. We can’t grow much paddy. We also have drinking water problem,” he said.

A voter from Chuzargang, Gelephu constituency, Pema, 34, said that he hopes the new government would build a bridge over the Maukhola. “The DNT has promised a bridge over Maukhola. We can only hope that they would fulfill their promise,” she said.

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) had set up 45 polling booths – 21 in Shompangkha constituency and 24 in the Gelephu constituency. A total of 220 polling officials were deputed for the polling duty. Elderly voters and mothers with children were given priority to vote.

The election was conducted smoothly in the dzongkhag and no formal complaints have been lodged by any of the parties as yet, according to election officials in the dzongkhag.

With a total of 30,183 registered voters in the two constituencies, Sarpang is the fourth largest dzongkhag after Trashigang, Samtse and Mongar in terms of voter population.

There are a total of 17,242 voters in the Gelephu constituency and 12,941 in the Sompangkha constituency.

In the primaries, DNT had won a total of 6,759 votes, while Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) secured 4,710, from the two constituencies. The battle for ballots in Gelephu constituency appeared to be tough for both DPT’s Pema Tashi, and DNT’s Karma D Wangdi. This was because the constituency saw a close contest between the two parties in the primary.

MB Subba | Gelephu