The incumbent Chukha National Council member, Pema Tenzin, won 419 votes against his opponent, Sangay Tenzin’s 212 votes in the Chapcha gewog’s dhamngoi zomdu  (nomination meeting) yesterday.

A total of 631 people turned up at the Chapcha gewog centre to cast their votes.

Chukha dzongkhag has conducted three gewog dhamngoi zomdus as of yesterday for the upcoming National Council (NC) since the zomdu started on February 26.

In Bongo gewog, a former school principal, Sangay Dorji, 37, won with 762 votes, against his two opponents, Tshering Loday, 29, who secured 284 votes and Pempa, 36, who secured 255 votes.

About 1,301 people came to vote in Bongo gewog centre on February 26. Election team had to let people vote until 8pm. Bongo has a total of 4,078 eligible voters.

Chukha dzongkhag’s election officer, Ugyen Choden, said they had to stretch the time in Bongo because of the large turnout.

She said that as voters who came after 5pm were not allowed, those present before 5pm were given tokens to stay and queue for the voting through the evening.

“Only those with tokens were allowed to vote after 5pm,” she said, adding that it is a usual practice during elections.

In Bjachhog gewog, the 2008-2013 Chukha NC member, Tshewang Lhamo, 37, secured 165 yes votes against 18 no votes.

She is the lone female candidate contesting in the dzongkhag. Bjachhog gewog has 1,388 eligible voters.

Meanwhile, voters are more aware of zomdu this time. Prepared for the zomdu, families from Chapcha had brought packed lunches.

Although Chapcha has a tentative 2,012 eligible voters, the voters present yesterday said the number of people coming to cast votes has increased compared to the past.

A voter, Ugyen Dorji, from Shemagangkha said that more people came to vote this time. “Zomdu would finish by 2pm usually,” he said.

Ugyen Dorji said he came to vote keeping in mind a candidate that would best serve the dzongkhag, its gewogs, and the villages as an NC representative.

“If an incapable candidate is selected, the government, dzongkhag, and the people in the grassroots would be affected in the long run. We need to select the best,” he said.

Voters Dawa Gyeltshen and Nagchu also said that more people had come because their villages were connected with roads and transportation was available.

They said people had to walk two hours to vote in the past elections. “People have also understood more about the importance of voting at zomdus now,” Dawa Gyeltshen said.

He said that as people in the villages cannot sit with the government representatives all the time, a capable person has to bridge the gap between the public and the government.

“However, votes cannot be cast just because people know a candidate. The votes should go to the best candidate.”

Meanwhile, of the 11 gewogs in Chukha, six gewogs of Bongo, Bjachhog, Chapcha, Lokchina, Geling, and Phuentsholing have candidates aspiring to contest in the 2018 NC election. Lokchina, Geling and Phuentsholing have a candidate each.

The last dhamngoi zomdu will be conducted on March 5 at Getena gewog. Getena and other four gewogs of Maetedkha, Doongna, Samphelling, and Darla do not have a candidate as of now.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing