Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Despite having a university degree, two graduates contesting in the upcoming Phuentsholing thromde elections for the post of tshogpa are faced with competent opposition. 

Pompha Devi Ghalley, 28, will contest from Pekarzhing demkhong.

She completed her Bachelors of Arts in Bhutanese and Himalayan Studies from the College of Language and Cultural Studies in Taktse, Trongsa.

Pompha Devi Ghalley worked in a private company as an administrative assistant and interned with Phuentsholing drungkhag.  She was also volunteering as a Desuup.

She said she is contesting to give people in her constituency more choice. 

“Pekarzhing just had one contestant in the last two thromde elections.”

Pompha Devi Ghalley said there are several important developments Pekarzhing needs as a demkhong under the thromde. 

“We need a primary school,” she said, explaining that the children from Pekarzhing currently go to Chumigthang MSS, which is far.

She also said Pekarzhing doesn’t have a health clinic today.  People also have to stand in the heat as the place didn’t have a general hall for public meetings and gatherings.

Street lights, public transportation, waste management and drinking water facilities are also required.

“Although we’re under the thromde, we lack many facilities. I’ll raise the issues as a tshogpa,” Pompha Devi Ghalley said. “Local leaders have to be more vocal.”

The university graduate has tough competition as she needs to win over the former tshogpa Tirtha Maya Mongar, who has served as Pekarzhing tshogpa for the last 10 years and is re-contesting.

Tirtha Maya Mongar, 38, also said that the immediate need at her demkhong is a community hall.

“We also need a school and a basic health unit (BHU),” she said, adding that she had already considered all these in her plan.

She said that during her tenure, blacktopping of roads, sewerage, and streetlights have been initiated and already underway.

If she becomes the tshogpa again, Tirtha Maya Mongar said that she wants to work on the issues related to the 30 percent land pooling and compensation for the public. 

“It is what people want to be resolved,” she added.  

 “This is my only regret as I couldn’t manage to do it because of the Covid-19,” she said. “It had been my wish and prayer to resolve this.”

Tirtha Maya Mongar is a class seven graduate. The mother of three said she is re-contesting because she wants to get fully satisfied before retiring for good. 

“I am contesting for the people.”

Meanwhile, the other university graduate is 33-year old Passang Norbu Tamang, the incumbent Rinchending tshogpa.

Since the demkhong didn’t have tshogpa candidate in 2016, there was a bye-election in 2017 that Passang Norbu Tamang won.

He has a Bachelors of Computer Applications from Apex College, Kolkata, India. 

“There are many things that I’ve started and need to complete,” he said, adding that it was the primary reason why he was re-contesting.

Although infrastructure has come up in the last few years, Passang Norbu Tamang said there were problems in maintenance and quality. 

“As I have already worked as a tshogpa, I think I can do better.”

He also said he wants to take up public grievances in regards to thromde taxation. 

“Many people still have to understand about the taxation issues.”

He will have to contest for the seat with a newcomer, Santa Man Ghalley, 26, who is a class 12 graduate.

Santa Man Ghalley has worked in a hotel for a year prior to his decision to contest for the post of a tshogpa.

“I am contesting because there is not much development in my demkhong,” he said. “This must change.”

Santa Man said there are water pipes without water, roads are dusty and without maintenance. 

“There is no proper maintenance,” he said, adding that there is so much to change in Rinchending.

Should he get elected as the tshogpa, he said that he would work closely with the new thrompon.

Santa Man Ghalley also said that people from his demkhong have not been able to avail themselves of basic services such as renewal of voter cards and census transfers. 

“I would like to look at addressing problems including these basic issues that residents face.”

Phuentsholing thromde has a total of 922 voters in six demkhongs. Four thrompon hopefuls and a total of eight tshogpas are contesting. Pasakha and Pekarzhing demkhongs don’t have thrompon contestants.