Candidates and officials urge people to come out and vote

Poll: The candidates of the first phase of the second thromde elections wrapped up their campaigns yesterday although the campaign period officially ends at 8am today.

The three thromdes of Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Gelephu will go to the polls on Monday. The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has deployed nine returning officers, national observers and micro observers for the election.

Despite the low voter up in the zomdus and the common forums, the ECB is hopeful that people will show up for the polls.

Dzongkhag election officer of Thimphu Choni Dorji said the ECB conducted all awareness programmes including a round of voter education programme. He urged all voters to cast their ballots to improve voter turnout.

There are a total of 9,175 eligible voters in the thromdes, out of which 7,278 are in Thimphu.

In the first thromde election in 2011, the voter turnout was 50.75 percent for thrompons and 44.68 for tshogpas. However, only 6.33 percent of the registered voters showed up in the recently common forums.

Monday is a public holiday in the three thromdes. Shops will remain closed and sale of alcohol will not be allowed on during the poll day.

Meanwhile, candidates are keeping their fingers crossed until the votes are counted on the evening of January 25.

Thimphu’s thrompon candidate Kinlay Dorjee said he is not confident about winning a second term though he is the lone candidate. “I’m not confident. Only in the evening of January 25 will we know,” he said.

Nonetheless, Kinlay Dorjee said he has visited almost every household, which he didn’t do in the first thromde election. He said people should come out and vote to strengthen democracy. “People should respect the rights bestowed on us,” he said.

Harka Bdr Gurung from Gelephu is counting on his experience as a former senior civil servant. “If I get elected, I will use my experience to make the thromde a model town,” he said. The oldest candidate, 59, served as a deputy secretary and a dungpa in the home and cultural affairs ministry. He resigned recently to take part in the elections.

A confident Tshering Norbu, also from Gelephu, said he believes that people will give their votes to the “right person”. He said Gelephu will develop faster if a right person becomes the thrompon.

Tshering Norbu from the Trashiling constituency is a computer science graduate from Sherubtse College.

With the former thrompon Tsheten Dorji disqualified yesterday evening, Phuentsholing’s Uttar Kumar Rai chances has increased as he will elected on “yes” and “no” votes. The now lone candidate said he is contesting to serve and lead and hopes to bring positive changes in the thromde. The businessman worked as a teacher and an IT executive before he joined to contest in 2011.

He said the candidates have finished their task of campaigning and that it was for the people now to take their responsibility as voters. “I have advertised myself as a product. Now it is for the voters to choose the best,” he said.

Tikaram Kaflay from Gelephu believes he connects well with the voters after having served in the dzongkhag for 15 years.  “I have 15 years of good relation with the people of Gelephu during my service in Sarpang,” he said.

Equipped with a master’s degree in seismic engineering, Tikaram Kaflay said the voters are familiar with his working style and competence level.  “I’m getting a good response from the people,” he said.

MB Subba