… for the 2023 NC elections
Chencho Dema | Punakha
If female candidates loathe campaigning as a politician or hate being aligned with a political party, the National Council, an apolitical body, is not appealing to women in the three dzongkhags of Gasa, Punakha, and Wangduephodrang.
There are 17 candidates who have registered to contest the upcoming NC elections from Gasa, Punakha, and Wangduephodrang as of January 27. However, all of them are men except the member of parliament, Lhaki Dolma from Punakha who decided to recontest.
The three dzongkhags had elected women to represent them in the past.
Sonam Yangchen of Nyishog gewog in Wangduephodrang was the first female candidate to be elected. She lost the seat to Tashi Dorji, the NC chairperson, in 2013.
From 2008 to 2018, only two female candidates were elected from the three dzongkhags. Lhaki Dolma was elected in 2018.
While Wangduephodrang saw an increase in the number of candidates contesting since 2008, there is a drop in the numbers in Punakha and Gasa.
Nine candidates from Wangduephodrang, followed by six candidates from Punakha, and two candidates from Gasa will be contesting in the 2023 election.
An official from the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) said that the number is subject to change as candidates could decide to withdraw their nominations at the last minute.
In the upcoming NC election, there are six candidates from Punakha, which is an increase of three from 2008 and two in 2013. In 2018, eight contested the NC elections. However, only two women had contested since 2008. Lhaki Dolma from Dzomi gewog and former lecturer Dechen Zangmo from Guma gewog.
Namgay Penjore from Goenshari gewog won the first NC elections in 2008. Sangay Phurba from Kabjisa and Namgay Dorji from Talog gewog were the other contestants.
In 2013, a former DPT candidate who was disqualified in the 2008 elections, Rinzin Dorji of Toedwang gewog defeated the former NC chairperson Namgay Penjore. In 2018, Punaps went for actor-turned MP, Lhaki Dolma.
For the 2023 election, along with Lhaki Dolma are former PDP Kabji-Talo candidate Dophu Drukpa and Dechen Thaiye Dorji from Toebisa gewog, Chencho Wangdi from Chubu gewog, Namgay Dorji and Tshewang Rinzin from Talog gewog.
From two candidates in 2008 to three in 2013, five in 2018 and nine in 2023, Wangduephodrang is still seeing the most candidates for the NC elections.
In 2008, Sonam Yangchen of Nyishog won over Kaka Dawa from Phangyul gewog. In 2013, out of the three candidates, voters chose Tashi Dorji of Ruebisa gewog over Sonam Yangchen and Chado Namgyal from the Thromde constituency.
In 2018, Tashi Dorji was re-elected among five contestants including Passang Thrinlee, the former DPT MP, Dawa Tshering, Rada Wangchuk, and Thinley.
For the 2023 election, there are three former Bhutan Broadcasting Service Corporation employees aspiring for the seat. The former BBS anchor, Karma Dorji from Kazhi gewog, former BBS employee, Dhendup Tshering, and a former livestock officer from Daga gewog, Ugyen are contesting.
Also contesting are the former DPT candidate of Athang Thedtsho constituency from Bjena gewog, Nim Gyeltshen, another former BBS employee, Phub Dorji from Gangtey gewog, a contract teacher from Sephu, Tashi Dorji while a former FMCL officer, Kuenley Tshering and former assistant education officer, Chimi Tenzin and a former guide, Jamayang Tashi are contesting from Rubesa gewog.
Meanwhile, Tashi Dorji, the NC chairperson, has not yet declared if he would run again.
Gasa has just two candidates for the 2023 election, down from three in 2013, and four in 2018. In the first NC election, Gasa fielded a lone candidate Sangay Khandu.
There were three candidates in 2013, but Sangay Khandu, the incumbent, was re-elected. Tenzin from Laya and Yeshey Dorji from Khamaed gewog were his opponents.
Dr Phurb Dorji, a former gynaecologist and specialist at the national referral hospital, was chosen during the dhamngoi zomdu over the incumbent National Council member Sangay Khandu, and Tenzin Namgay from Khatoed gewog in Gasa.
The three candidates were Khamed gewog’s nominee Kinley Dorji, former Khamed-Lunana candidate of DPT, and Dorji Khandu from Laya gewog, and Dr Phurb Dorji. Dorji Khandu was elected to represent Gasa.
For the 2023 race, there are two candidates. The present MP Dorji Khandu, and former Vice Principal of Royal Academy of Performing Arts, Tshering are the contestants.
Since 2008, there has not been a female contender from Gasa.