Numbers favour Kinlay Dorjee, but incumbency factor could matter

Chhimi Dema

The race for the post of Thimphu Thrompon is picking up. The three candidates are becoming more visible as they campaign at common forums, from door-to-door and use the social media to reach to voters.

The campaign promises are clear. From improving public service delivery to ensuring reliable water supply to strengthening community vitality, the pledges sound convincing to the city residents who feel the new Thrompon has a massive task ahead.

Unlike in the last election, 2016, where the former Thrompon was elected on the basis of “Yes and No” votes, there are choices. The 8,007 eligible voters could vote in the former Thrompon who already served two terms, an urban planner who had worked with the thromde for years or a young entrepreneur.

Who will become the third elected Thrompon would be known on April 28. But if the two new aspiring candidates want to stop the former thrompon who is vying for his third term, they will have to beat him in his own backyard.


Advantage Kinlay Dorjee?

The numbers favour the former thrompon.

Kinlay Dorjee is the lone candidate contesting from South Thimphu with 3,083 eligible voters in two constituencies. With voters of Chang Bangdu-Olakha constituency not wanting the candidate from their constituency, Kinley Tshering, to contest, the expectation is that Kinlay Dorjee’s chances have improved. Kinley Tshering was voted out at the chiwog level with 144 “No” votes over 119 “yes” votes on March 21.

While it is not confirmed that all the voters of South Thimphu would vote for Kinlay Dorjee, the two candidates from North Thimphu would have to divide the 3,403 votes. 

Ugyen Dorji and Sonam Dorji could penetrate South Thimphu voters, but the same could be said about the former thrompon who claims of having a good support base in the North Thimphu.

The 2021 Thimphu thromde election is a repeat of the first thromde election in 2011. Kinlay Dorjee won largely because the two candidates from North Thimphu couldn’t penetrate the strong support base of Kinlay Dorjee in Babesa and Olakha while they had to share the votes of North Thimphu.

The former Thrompon secured 1,335 votes, winning by 182 votes.

Voter turnout would play a deciding role in who becomes the new Thrompon. From past experience, voter turnout is poor in the capital city’s thromde election.

In the first thromde election, the capital city saw 1,335 people elect the mayor. Despite an increase in the number of eligible voters, by 1,049 voters in the second thromde election, 2016, only 31 percent or 2,557 of the 7,278 registered voters took part.

The number of eligible voters has increased by 6.98 percent, turnout, however, is yet to be seen.

On the assumed advantages, Kinlay Dorjee said that it is up to the people to decide whether to vote for him or not. “I cannot say who will win but we are doing our best to win,” he said.

The two new contestants are confident.

“I am optimistic that more people will come forward to vote for change,” said Sonam Dorji, the candidate from Dechenchhoeling-Taba. “I hope to offer change in leadership for our people.”

Taking wisdom of the old and energy of the young, Sonam Dorji said that he pledges a vision of ‘New Thimphu’ that is livable, sustainable and inclusive for all residents.

“For me, there is no South Thimphu or North Thimphu but only one Thimphu Thromde,” he said.

This election is old versus status quo, he said. “I offer choice to our people as ‘a real change’ candidate.”

Ugyen Dorji, the candidate from Jungzhina-Kawajangsa who wants to be the “agent of change” said his chance of winning is high. The support base, the former Thimphu thromde urban planner said, is “extremely overwhelming.”

In his campaign notes Ugyen Dorji states he understands the challenges and difficulties of Thimphu Thromde like laws and legislations, resident’s hopes and expectations, human resource requirement and most importantly the urban land issues.

“My people (voters) appreciate the sacrifice I made to stand in this election. I am confident,” he said.

Ugyen Dorji believes as a new candidate, his advantages are better than the former thrompon’s.

According to the urban planner, the voter base has changed. The thromde is, now, a mix of people from other dzongkhags who have civil registration in the capital, he said.

“Voters should choose whoever would be best for the city, rather than thinking that they belong to North or South Thimphu.”