With people in rural villages made to attend many meetings, people of Phongmey in Trashigang say voter fatigue has set in.

During a common forum session held at the gewog centre in Phongmey yesterday, some of the people shared their exhaustion from attending several gatherings.

“It’s the same thing we have to listen to in such meetings,” said a farmer. “There is nothing new they have to say. But we are made to attend these meetings.”

A resident, Sangay, is attending the gathering for the fourth time. “The only difference I see from the last meeting is that the number of candidates has reduced,” he said. “Otherwise, it is the same lecture that I have been hearing for the past few months.”

He said that the last two common forums he attended at the gewog centre were because the gewog administration had asked all the residents to attend it. “I attended another two meetings because I was asked by the party tshogpa. I had to accept their request because if I don’t, they label me as a member of their opponent party.”

Another resident said they come to listen to the candidates leaving behind their work at home. “After walking for hours and again waiting for the meeting to begin, there is no time provided to raise our concerns and doubts,” she said. “There is no point if we are not allowed to clear our doubts based on what the candidates had to speak.”

It was learnt that the majority of the people at the gathering were supporters of the parties.

“We are thankful to the parties and candidates for putting in extra effort to make us understand their ideologies and pledges,” said Pema Dorji. “But when things are said repeatedly without much change, it is exhausting and sometimes annoying.”

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s (DPT) Radhi-Sakteng candidate, Tashi Dorji, said that if the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) could do away with the familiarisation tour and door-to-door campaigns and focus more on one meeting, people would not have to attend the meetings time and again.

“A single and effective meeting with the help of gewog administration where all the people could be gathered will have a larger impact than having several such meetings with less attendance,” he said. “It would also stop avenues for corruption at the same time.”

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) candidate, Dorji Tshering, did not comment.

Younten Tshedup | Phongmey