The people of Wangdue say they are happy with whichever party forms the government so long the candidates from their villages get elected.

A 31-year-old man from Kazhi gewog, Ugay, said all candidates are Bhutanese and would only want good for the people and the country.

“We are unable to tell which candidate is better. But I would prefer to vote for the candidate from my village because he or she would give importance to his own constituency,” Ugay said.

Sonam Lham, 37, from Goenkha in Phangyul gewog said she is not familiar with the DNT candidate from her constituency, Wangchuk Namgyel. “I would like the DPT’s candidate to win from our constituency because we are from the same village.”

During the primary round, DNT secured 3,033 votes, the highest from Nyisho-Sephu constituency. PDP followed with 2,530 votes while DPT secured 1,208 votes.

Most residents from Phangyul, Kazhi, Bjena and Gase-Tshogongm say it is difficult to tell which candidate is better or popular in their village. All candidates, they say, are well educated and capable.

A farmer from Bjena gewog, Lhakpa, said being illiterate, it is difficult to understand which candidate is better for the constituency. “Whoever gets elected or whichever party forms the government, we have to earn our own living.”

Lhakpa said the candidates pledge many things but to carry out the work, they have to depend on the government’s budget. “The pledges don’t impress me.”

Dorji, 50, also from Bjena, said it is important to vote and elect a representative from the constituency, but it is difficult to say which candidate would benefit the people more.“Even if people say that he or she is better, I cannot trust them when it comes to benefitting people and working for their good.”

Whichever party comes to power, Dorji said his only wish is that it would work towards benefitting the people in the communities and addressing their issues.

Meanwhile, a 33-year-old man from Pangsho in Gase-Tshogongm gewog, Yeshi said he couldn’t eat for two days after the results of the primary round. “I supported PDP since 2008 and wished the party to form the government again.”

He said he supported PDP because when the party was in power, it did a lot for the people in rural areas. “The former health minister brought about many developments in my village.”

The annual development grant of Nu 2 million to every gewog helped bring more developments in the gewogs.

“Although the former health minister won from the constituency, his party did not qualify for the general round. I was sad but that is the way of democratic process.”

Yeshi said that while PDP government did much for the rural people, it appears that they did not do as much in the urban areas especially for the civil servants since the party secured less postal ballot votes. “On EVM, we the people tried our best.”

PDP secured the highest voted from Athang-Thedsho constituency. DNT came a close second with a vote difference of about 205.

With the PDP out of the race now, Yeshi said he is concerned if the new government would continue the former government’s work, which is on-going in the gewogs. “A road construction in Nahi gewog and works to connect a water source from Basochhu project to the village is yet to complete.”

Both the candidates, DNT’s Kinley Wangchuk, and DPT’s Nim Gyeltshen have assured that they would complete the work, he added.

While both the candidates have impressive oratory skills and are capable, Yeshi said that now DNT seems to be more popular in Gaselo since the candidate is from the village. “But, we never know who people would vote for on poll day.”

A 54-year-old man from Gase-Tshogongm, Norbu said that DNT focuses on health and DPT on self-reliance. Both are important. “Whichever party forms the government, I am fine with it but I feel DNT would be better for the people since it focuses on health.”

Bengkha, 53, said she had preferred PDP to form the government for the next five years but with the party out of the race, she supports DNT. “Most people I know said they now support Khamshing Meto (DNT) because the candidate is from our village.”

Norbu said if the candidates are from the same village and if they know each other, it is easier to approach the representative whenever they need to.

“For us, we would be happy if the former health minister gets elected. He did so much for the village. We could see him personally and he helped us during the time of sickness,” Norbu said. “He was a humble man.”

Going by the primary results, Yeshi said DPT’s also looks promising.“We cannot compete with the east.” Yeshi said. “This year, voters in southern Bhutan also did not vote for PDP. I think only we and people in Haa voted for them.”

Benkha said that with so many voice messages and video clips on elections flooding her WeChat group chat, it is scary to see people talk openly and going to the extent of harming one another. “Earlier when we go went to vote, we didn’t think about anything. Now, I am scared people might know who I voted for.”

Dechen Tshomo | Wangdue