Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing
Seven contestants, including a woman, will vie for the post of thrompon from Phuentsholing in the upcoming thromde elections.
Of the six demkhongs, Pasakha and Pekarzhing don’t have candidates.
Phuentsholing Maed, Neydrag and Phuentsholing Toed have two candidates each running for the post. Rinchending has a lone candidate.
A former tshogpa of Phuentsholing Maed (core town) constituency, Chhungku Dawa, 40, is the lone woman candidate.
Having already served Phuentsholing thromde in the capacity of a tshogpa for three years, she said women participation is less compared to that of men in all fields, including politics.
She said she wants to be an example and voice of all those working-class men and women who want to be the change.
“Although we are in the 21st century, there are still voices that are unheard at all, especially of women.”
Born and raised in Phuentsholing, Chhungku Dawa said she knows everything about the town.
“I know the problems of people because I have faced it.”
If she wins, Chhungku Dawa said her first priority would be on improving the present five-year plans that have been held up and complete them.
“Then comes the people. If people want to change, we need to listen to them.”
Chhungku Dawa has a Bachelors of Business Administration. She is also a mother.
She will first have to compete with Tandin Wangchuk, 31, in the demkhong.
Tandin Wangchuk is the youngest candidate. He is running for the post for the second time this time.
Tandin has a Bachelors of Commerce (accountancy) and has worked in private construction and mining sectors.
“I am contesting keeping in mind the future of the town in the long run,” he said.
“I am also contesting for the second time because I have a strong feeling that I can serve my people to the best of my capacity. I will never give up. I am young and I will work hard for this town and people.”
Of the several priorities, he is thinking for the thromde, Tandin Wangchuk said all the six demkhongs required equal development.
He said among many priorities, fixing the water shortage problem and developing a proper sewerage system needs attention.
“Children and old age recreational parks are a must.”
Tandin Wangchuk said he would solve housing issues in the town and develop the local economy.
“I will also prioritise skills development and employment programmes.”
He said he would bring traditional aesthetics to modern infrastructures and construct flyovers to reduce traffic congestions.
“There will be development according to public demands. Public safety is also a priority.”
From Neydrag, Tashi Wangchuk, 38, will compete against the former thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai.
The Bachelors of Commerce graduate said he worked as an administrator and accountant for a non-governmental organisation for disability for nearly five years and as a head coach for Special Olympics.
“It’s time for me to explore serving the community by acting as a mediator and creating cooperative relations between the public and the government,” he said.
Tashi Wangchuk said if a person is genuinely interested to serve and manage the community and society, he or she must be a responsible person.
“It is a great privilege when one is active, strong, agile and mentally sound.”
His key priority will be on a proper, clean and sufficient water supply in the thromde, including proper waste management to keep the environment clean and green by introducing recycling methods.
Proper drainage system, quality roads that will last and proper sewerage systems are other priorities.
“I will also give priority towards the economy of Phuentsholing by supporting and assisting our business community,” Tashi Wangchuk said.
He also wants to introduce new business entrepreneurship ideas to the youth to reduce unemployment problems.
Former thrompon, Uttar Kumar Rai, 39, is also re-contesting from Neydrag.
He is also a Bachelors of Commerce graduate and has the incumbency factor of serving as the thrompon for the last five years.
Uttar Kumar Rai said good changes would come only if the leader understands all the problems of the town and its residents at the grassroots.
“As I belong here, it truly gives me a great sense of attachment to serve my place, my country and my King.”
He said he understands all the challenges and scope of opportunities to make Phuentsholing a prosperous economic hub for the present and future.
“I honestly feel Phuentsholing thromde has the potential to become a prosperous economic hub if we work with our heart.”
Uttar Kumar Rai said he knows the problems and solutions are also well in place but at the initial stage of implementation.
“Therefore, to continue my plan activities of the previous term and fulfil people’s dreams, I am re-contesting.”
He said he will mainly focus on eradicating existing problems, like inconsistent water problems, housing crisis, traffic congestion, waste management problems and community storm drainage problems.
“These are the basic problems that still exist. I will graduate from the town from such problems. This time is purely for implementation to erase those problems from Phuentsholing. I wish all other candidates the best.”
Former Phuentsholing thromde engineer, Devi Charan Dhimal, 56, is also contesting from Phuentsholing Toed.
He has work experience of 30 years serving in different capacities, 27 years in civil service and three years in the private sector. His last position from 2016 to mid-2020 was with Phuentsholing thromde as project coordinator for two Asian Development Bank funded projects.
Prior to this, he was chief engineer (head of infrastructure division) in thromde.
Devi Charan Dhimal said having worked 15 years with Phuentsholing Thromde, he had seen various shortfalls in delivering the basic services.
According to him, there are shortfalls in supplying adequate drinking water, managing and maintaining pliable road networks, drainage systems (both roadside as well as stormwater drainages), and effective collection and managing the solid and liquid waste among many others.
“Housing, particularly, for those people living in the low income is an inherent issue in Phuentsholing,” Devi Charan Dhimal said.
“Thus, having served the TSA-WA-SUM for three decades, and almost half of which under Phuentsholing thromde, and having known the taxpayers’ pain and grievances, I am confident that there are several issues to be addressed at ground zero and improve the overall business of thromde.”
Since the local government is the nearest government to the public and profusely accountable to the taxpayer, Devi Charan Dhimal said he decided to contest with the hope and aspirations to improve the overall services to the valuable taxpayers.
He will compete from the demkhong with Deepen Ghallay, 34, who has a Masters in Planning and Entrepreneurship from ISBE, Kolkata.
Deepen Ghallay has worked five years in a private business sector as a regional manager.
“First of all, Phuentsholing is my birthplace. So I am contesting to empower my people and bring collective development through a transparent leadership,” he said.
With the experience in dealing and communicating with people from all walks of life, Deepen Ghallay said he would be happy enough to raise his people’s voice, provide timely services, allocate and manage budget for the overall development and implementations.
“And thus bring economic development and prosperity.”
He also said he wants to develop all the six demkhongs.
“I will focus on the 12th Plan and complete the incomplete LAPs efficiently and effectively. Drinking water problems and waste and garbage issues are also priorities.”
He said there has to be development in land pooling areas, proper drainage system and proper footpaths in all demkhongs.
Deepen Ghallay said the housing crunch is another problem he would address, especially for the people currently living in the Toorsa temporary shelter.
“With the increase in population, there is a need for school infrastructures, city bus service, which will benefit the public and school going children.”
He said there is a need for proper footpaths, drainage, roads, business signboard, and footbridges to keep Phuentsholing bright, green and clean are other priorities.
Karma Gelay, 53, is the only candidate from Rinchending constituency. He has a BA in Architecture and MA of Science in Urban Management and Development. He worked 28 years as an architect in civil service, and as a consultant to the government and agencies like Danida, UNDP, SNV, ADB and the World Bank.
“I am contesting because of the slow pace and poor quality developments,” he said.
Karma Gelay said Phuentshogling thromde has great potential.
“I believe that as a person of integrity and vision guided by technical qualifications and years of experience, I will be able to harness the collective potential of Phuentsholing as a city, the thromde office as its custodian and the spirit of all the residents of Phuentsholing to make our thromde a better place.”
If elected, Karma Gelay said his priorities will be to improve the image of the thromde office by raising the morale of its staff and streamlining process and responsibilities.
“Then I would like to improve the monitoring of projects.”
He also said he would initiate Local Area Plans (LAP) for all areas and decongest Phuentsholing town. “I want to make Phuentsholing a garden city.”