PDP’s lone candidate from east has ministerial prospects

Samdrupjongkhar is divided between the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP), with 43-year-old Younten Phuntsho emerging as the lone candidate from the eastern dzongkhags for PDP.

He secured victory over Jigme Wangchuk, a core founder of BTP, by 400 votes from Samdrupjongkhar’s Jomotsangkha-Martshala constituency in yesterday’s general elections. Younten Phuntsho from Zangthig, Lauri geowg, secured 4,440 votes (2,429 EVMs and 2,011 postal ballots), while Jigme Wangchuk garnered 4,040 votes (2,107 on EVMs and 1,933 PBs).

Given the regional composition in the cabinet and being the sole representative from the eastern region, Younten Phuntsho, a former program coordinator of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and deputy chief forestry officer at the Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS), is likely to hold a ministerial portfolio. He holds double master’s degrees in Science (Forestry).

PDP secured the highest votes, both in EVMs and postal ballots, during the primary round elections on November 30 last year.

Expressing a mix of emotions, Younten Phuntsho, a father of three sons, said, “While I am happy that I won, I am disheartened that some of our best candidates from the east couldn’t win.” He expressed his deepest gratitude to all Bhutanese citizens, especially his constituents in Jomotsangkha-Martshala.

However, the people of Dewathang-Gomdar constituency favored BTP this time, casting a total of 6,300 votes, including 2,597 postal ballots, for Tshering Penjor. PDP’s Kelzang Phuntsho secured only 4,887 votes (3,130 on EVMs and 1,757 PBs).

Tshering Penjor, 43, from Gomdar, has an extensive background in education, serving as a teacher, assistant principal, vice principal for 12 years, and six years as a planning and program officer in the education ministry.

Out of the total 29,222 registered voters across 53 polling stations in two constituencies, 11,369 votes were cast in the EVMs, and 8,298 votes through postal ballots. Seven postal ballots were rejected.

Meanwhile, election officials extended the voting time by 45 minutes for 80 voters already in line at Pemathang gewog centre polling station.

While the polling proceeded smoothly, a young woman from Dewathang polling station, with 1,865 registered voters, was sent back for carrying an expired citizenship identity card.

Contributed by

Rinzin Wangchuk