All gup aspirants in Sangbaykha come with at least a decade of LG experience

LG: Nim Dorji has been in office for only seven months after he won the by-elections in December last year.  Now, it is time to re-contest against the same candidate he trounced before.

The two gup aspirants of Gakiling gewog in Haa, Nima Dorji and Gashey have met in battle before. One thing the duo have in common is their ages. Both are 33.

However, in the field of local government elections, Nim Dorji has more experience.

The cab driver turned contractor lost the elections in 2011 only to get elected to the post in the by-election.

“The experience I gained as a contractor gives me an upper edge because of my understanding on the tendering process, planning and implementation of the projects,” Nim Dorji said.

He added that seven months was too short to demonstrate his capabilities. “By the time I took over local planning was already done,” he added. He came back lobbying for the seat just to experience a sense of fulfillment and that, he said will be done by bringing change to this remote community.

Giving it a second shot, Gashey is back to the task of convincing people that he is equally capable. “I hope people give me another chance. It is uncertain right now,” he said.

He also comes with a five-year experience as geydrung and as a freelance cultural guide for three years. He said his only pledge is to profusely support activities that genuinely benefit the people.

In Sangbaykha gewog, 63-year-old Gem Tshering is pursuing his final attempt to head the gewog for another term after a 13-year gap.

He doesn’t recall when, but said that he was the first village tshogpa when the post was introduced in the country. From 1996, he served as mangmi for three years and then became the gup and served for a term. “It was 13 years back and the role of a gup was entirely different then,” he said.

The responsibility of a gup then was nothing different from today. “But gups back then had no financial authority of even Nu 5,” he said, adding this has changed today.

During those days, he said gups were elected by a show of hands of people present in gewog zomdu chaired by the dzongdag, in a single day. Today, he said, elections have become more transparent right from the scrutiny of documents.

“During my campaign, I have been telling people that if you err on the poll day you will regret for another five years,” he said, adding that it’s all about trust.

Campaigning against him is Samdrup, 45, who comes with 13 years of experience in serving the local government as a geydrung and twice as a mangmi. “I think I will win this election because I have never failed in my duties in the last 13 years,” he said.

While all the aspirants in the gewog have farm road, irrigation, electricity, and agriculture and livestock promotion at the top of their agendas, Samdrup has a unique idea.

He pledged to come up with a card that would contain every detail of an individual and distribute it to the respective households. While service delivery has been made much easier in the gewog with the establishment of a community centre, for small details like house and thram number, people waste an entire day.

This is because, he said, without a road the community centre in the gewog is days away from most of the villages. “These details are not there in our citizenship identity card and introduction of such a card in the gewog would immensely benefit the people in availing G2C services,” he said.

“If I don’t have the capacity in some areas, the other two contestants also don’t, and in areas where they are competent, I am also equally capable,” said the 40-year old Thinley, offering a third choice to the electorate in Sangbaykha. He has been a gup for nine years. “I took a break for five years and I am back now.”

Tshering Dorji  | Haa

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