The two thrompon candidates for the upcoming thromde elections in Gelephu were unhappy by the poor turnout at the first common forum held in Jampeling demkhong yesterday.

Only 12 people attended the forum in the demkhong that has the third-highest eligible voters in Gelephu thromde.

Jampeling has 279 eligible voters.

The two candidates, Tikaram Kafley from Jampeling demkhong and Tshering Norbu from Trashiling demkhong, said common fora are important for people to listen to their manifestos on a shared platform and make an informed choice.

They also said the purpose of the common forum was defeated without people attending the forum.

The former thrompon, Tikaram Kafley, said it was important for people to participate in the forum whether they liked the candidates or not. “I’m not happy with the turnout but they might be engaged with work. Some might have decided not to attend because they’ve heard the candidates during the door-to-door campaign.”

Candidate Tshering Norbu from Trashiling demkhong said it was important for people to attend the common forums, as they would hear from candidates together.

“In the door-to-door campaign, pledges are shared on a personal level although it’s an opportunity to explain it to the people well. The common forum is an opportunity for the people to know the competency and capability of the candidates,” he said.

The former businessman, who was also an ICT officer, said there was no official to inform people about the common forum. “There are no tshogpas to share the information. Appointing a temporary representative would improve the attendance.”

At the common forum held at the fishery office yesterday, there were almost an equal number of people attending the common forum and officials coordinating and observing the forum.

A voter from Jampeling, Aruna Mukhia Chhetri, said that her neighbours and relatives were not aware and did not receive any information regarding the common forum.

“I called some relatives. They weren’t informed. They’d left for work when I asked them to come for the forum,” she said.

She also agreed that it was important to attend the forum because the people should know the pledges.

The returning officer, Needup, said the dzongkhag issued public notification and the thromde administration informed the people about the common forum.

“There are challenges once the tenure of tshogpas ended. They aren’t active anymore and there are no officials on the ground in demkhong to inform the voters,” he said.

Needup also said the thromde administration made arrangement and asked former tshogpas and civil servants to inform them.

“People chose not to come. There is no authority to compel voters or make it mandatory for the people to attend the forum. That’s not the essence of democracy,” he said.

Sources said not having a proper logistic facility at the Jampeling could also have discouraged the people.

Meanwhile, common forums for the remaining demkhongs in Gelephu are scheduled for this week.

The common forum for Namkhaling demkhong will be held at 9:30am in the CDCL office today.

Nima | Gelephu