Considering the number of voters on the electoral roll, Samtse is the second most important dzongkhag, after Trashigang, for the four political parties in the primary round, forcing the party workers to work hard to secure vote counts.

Samtse currently is People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) stronghold with all constituencies won by the party in the 2013 election.Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) had secured all four constituencies in the first election in 2008.

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s (DNT) dzongkhag coordinator, Bali Raj Gurung, said they expect to win the primary round in Samtse.

“If people vote fairly, we will win,” the coordinator said. “But if anything goes wrong, we cannot say.”

Bali Raj Gurung said they are trying to convince the voters to vote freely and fairly. People should understand that election is happening for the third time and there is a need to vote rightly for the right party to form the right government.

Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party’s (BKP) dzongkhag coordinator, Bhuwan Singh Ghalley, said it is going well. “Although we couldn’t cover all the places we are trying our best.”

The coordinator said going by people’s feedback and support, they are expecting to win by 50 to 55 percent.

The coordinator also said that they did not start with the door-to-door campaign yet.

People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) dzongkhag coordinator, Norbu Tshering, was busy yesterday handing over manifestos to a party worker.

The coordinator said the candidates were busy campaigning since August 23.“So far so good,” he said, adding that the party workers are working very hard. “We are confident but not overconfident.”

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s (DPT) dzongkhag coordinator, Phub Nidup, said they are confident of a successful outcome.

“Everything is in place,” the coordinator said, adding that they also started door-to-door campaign yesterday as per the approval.

Phub Nidup said going by the support received from the people, they are expecting to win.

Meanwhile, common forums start today in Samtse. Unlike in the past, common forums would also be conducted in the chiwogs.

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) candidate of Dophuchen-Tading constituency, Loknath Sharma, said that chiwog level common forums would be time-consuming.

“We will be holding common forum until September 4,” he said. “After that, we will just have about seven effective days to campaign.”

Loknath Sharma said gewog level common forums should work.

However, Samtse’s returning officer (RO), Lotay Tenzin, said that chiwog level common forums are initiated to allow maximum reach.

“Candidates in Ugyentse-Yoeseltse demkhong had given a consensus that they would just go for the gewog level,” he said. “We will allow as per the candidates’ wants.”

Since the campaign had officially begun on August 23, Lotay Tenzin also said that as of now there are no complains and accusations.

“Even if there are complains, we only accept them in writing,” the RO said, adding that complains through phone calls and other informal means are not entertained.

He said that a coordination meeting was also conducted on August 25 with coordinators from constituencies, dzongkhag, gewogs and candidates. “It has been clearly announced that complaints should be brought in writing and investigations and actions would be conducted.”

As per the electoral roll, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has registered 438,663 voters for the elections as of July 1, 2018. Samtse has four constituencies with 47,360 registered voters.

Rajesh Rai | Samtse