Candidates depend on word of mouth campaign

Election: In what could be a mater of concern for the election commission, voter apathy marred the common forum campaigns across the three thromdes of Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Gelephu, which will go to the polls on January 25.

There are 9,175 eligible voters in the three thromdes, but according to the election commission’s report on the common forums, only 581 of them showed up for the common forums. This translates into 6.33 percent voter turn up for the common forums, which were held from January 6 to 14.

Common forums provide platforms for candidates to make their pledges and introduce themselves to the voters.

The turn up though is expected to increase on the poll day. However, this also means that many would be casting their ballots without having adequate knowledge about the candidates and their pledges.

In a few constituencies, candidates and election officials together outnumbered the voters.

Only five voters turned in the Phuentsholing Maed constituency of Phuentsholing, which has 776 voters. And a total of 96 voters showed up in the second biggest thromde’s six constituencies.

The highest was recorded in the Changbangdu-Olakha constituency of Thimphu, where 100 voters showed up.

The election commission’s officiating director of electoral registration and delimitation, Sonam Tobgay, said voter turn up will increase on the poll day. “The people should honour the fundamental duties to make our democracy vibrant with their involvement and representations in the electoral process,” he said.

Meanwhile, door-to-door campaigns are expected to take the election messages and pledges to more households. The candidates will have until January 23 for door-to-door campaign.

Gelephu’s thrompon candidate Tikaram Kaflay said the poor voter turn out was a matter of concern, as it makes difficult for the candidates to reach out to the electorate. One of the reasons for low voter turn up, he said was that only one person from each household come for the meeting.

“We try to meet more people during the door-to-door campaign, but it’s not possible to meet all the members of the family,” he said. “We request people to convey our messages to rest of their family members,” he said.

Thimphu thrompon candidate Kinlay Dorjee said although the electorate did not raise issues during the common forums the pledges need to be heard. “The common forums were basically about candidates making pledges,” he said.

Thromde wise, Phuentsholing recorded the highest turn up for zomdus with 12.3 percent. Gelephu and Thimphu recorded 11.8 percent and 4.8 percent turn up respectively.

In Gelephu, 133 voters showed up for the common forums. Thimphu recorded the highest in terms of number with 352 voters.

MB Subba