Rinzin Wangchuk

Despite repeated reminders to stick to their pledges, the six National Council (NC) aspiring candidates of Samdrupjongkhar used most of their time in introduction during the public debate which was telecast live yesterday.

Each candidate was given five minutes to explain their pledges. However, they speak about their manifestos for just one or two minutes only.

Safeguarding and upholding the sacredness of the Constitution, and striving to fulfil the legislative and policy review mandates were the common pledges the six NC aspiring candidates made to the people of Samdrupjongkhar.

To encourage more international and regional tourists, Karma Tshering Wangchuk, 59, said that he would focus on tourism policy and review its impact at the ground level.

“Although tourism is the second largest source of revenue for Bhutan, the number of both international and regional tourists have declined substantially due to increase in sustainable development fee (SDF),” he said. “So we need to review the policy so that everyone benefits from the tourism sector.

He also pledged to focus on economic development, issues facing the agriculture sector, and building Brand Bhutan. “I’ll focus on youth and overall unemployment issues, and creating a knowledge-based society,” he said.

Ran Bahadur Biswa, 49, from Langchenphu gewog, promised to fulfill the aspirations of the people through the review and consolidation of public policies and relevant provisions of the existing laws.

“Besides proposing new laws in consultation with the public to enhance the socio-economic development, I will also provide constructive suggestions to the government on matters of national importance,” he said.

The candidate, who secured 272 “Yes” votes during the nomination process, stressed on strengthening national identity and ensuring that development benefit all Bhutanese.

The candidate from Lauri gewog, Tempa Gyeltshen, 39, wanted to prioritise economic prosperity for rural communities and youth.

“I served as a local government leader and I know the issues and challenges the rural people face today. That is why I’ll prioritise development activities that benefit people,” he said, adding that he would also recommend reviewing tourism policy to promote balanced regional development.

Tempa Gyeltshen secured 235 Yes votes against 33 No votes to contest in NC elections.

From Pemathang gewog candidate, Tshering Choeda, 46, emphasised ensuring sustainable, vibrant, and transformative Constitutional democratic standards and embarking on transformative collaboration to deliver efficient public services.

“I’ll support 21st-century socio-economic vision and ensure national interest are always protected and public aspirations fulfilled while carrying out the independent mandates of the House of Review,” he said, adding that he would also support strategic policy on community vitality as a GNH indicator.

Tshering Choeda, 46, secured 313 Yes votes in the nomination round held on March 2.

Tshering Norbu, 49, who was nominated from Martshala gewog with 491 votes pledged to safeguard the national interests of the country and fulfill the aspirations of the citizens by harmonising policies, rules and regulations, and other irrelevant laws.

“I’ll proactively participate in the deliberations of the issues and concerns raised by the electorates and ensure to resolve it amicably for the greater benefit and interest of the nation and the people,” he said.

He also pledged to assist and guide local government functionaries when preparing the gewogs’ five-year plans to make them sustainable, and doable and to generate income that would enhance the standard of living.

The sixth candidate, Tshewang Rinchen, 37, said that he will strive to fulfill the legislative and policy review mandates to ensure legislations are inclusive and of national importance.

“Reviewing the performance of the government, national and constituency level issues and providing constructive recommendations will be my priority,” he said.

“I’ll also review the 13th Plan activities and ensure that Samdrupjongkhar dzongkhag is allocated a fair share of resources,” he said.

Tshewang Rinchen secured 326 “Yes” votes from Gomdar gewog out of 363 votes cast.

Of the 11 gewogs in Samdrupjongkhar, Phuntshothang, Samrang, Serthi, Wangphu, Orong, and Dewathang did not have any nominees.