LG:A Sherubtse graduate, Birkha Bahadur Rai, won 201 votes out of 250 to secure a landslide victory against two other contenders from Chongeykha-Dophulhaka chiwog, under Phuentsholing gewog in Chukha, vying for the gup post during the chiwog zomdu on August 24.
The 28-year-old science graduate has been residing in his village since graduating in 2013. This proved to be an advantage. His opponents Sangay and Passang Tamang lacked familiarity with the chiwog.
“I struggled with you in the fields,” he said to the crowd during introductions. “I used the same sickles and spades,” he added. “I was here to understand village life and its struggles.”
Birkha Bahadur Rai said that experience was not everything today. The passion to serve, he said, was more important.
“We must not always look for opportunities,” he said to the voters, explaining how he created an opportunity for himself by staying back in the village.
The other contestant, Sangay from Kungkha village, secured 27 votes. He said many voters from Kungkha did not turn up, which according to him, lost him votes. “The road condition is very bad,” Sangay said. “Not a single woman turned up.”
Sangay, 32, said there are around 50 households in Kungkha with 100-plus voters.
Heavy and incessant rainfall in July this year had severed the Ganglakha-Dungna gewog connectivity road at numerous points. Given more than 700 eligible voters in this chiwog as per the draft electoral roll, a turn out of 250 voters is low. Many did not make it due to the roadblocks, while many in the lower regions of the chiwog were busy in the fields harvesting cardamom.
Passang Tamang, 37, who has worked with Dai Nippon Construction as a supervisor received 22 votes. Although he exhibited a brilliant introductory session to the voters about his 10 year experience and intent, most of the voters were seeing him for the first time. It did not work for Passang Tamang.
Most voters during the zomdu did not have much expectation in terms of development activities for their villages.
For the past 10 years, Chongeykha-Dophulhaka never had a gup or a mangmi. “I am expecting the gup to be from our village,” a 75-year-old Kul Bahadur Chhetri said. “It would mean comfort for us.”
On the development front, Kul Bahadur Chhetri said, there was everything in his village from drinking water, road connectivity and electricity. However, he said a gup is needed.
After voting, Dhan Maya Chhetri said it was long-lasting developments she wants to see in her village. “I am not sure that will happen,” the 52-year-old from Chongeykha said.
Phuentsholing gewog will have four candidates in the race for the gup post this local government elections.
Former gewog mangmi Chandra Man Rai of Lingden chiwog who got 145 “yes” votes out of 166 cast is another contestant.
In Deling-Marpji chiwog, Tek Bahadur Ghalley got 122 votes against his rival Tara Bir Ghalley who received 52. Tek Bahadur Ghalley is another university graduate.
Doshing Lepcha, meanwhile, garnered 127 votes out of 233 to win the zomdu race.
Rajesh Rai | Chongeykha