The most common issues of the people of the southern Dzongkhags are census and land issues. Other issues such as need for farm roads, agriculture, employment and drinking water are important but mostly secondary in the priority list.
With just a week away for the primary round of third parliamentary election, the large number of votes from the southern dzongkhags will have a major impact on the result of the primary round.
Around 35 percent of the total voters are from southern dzongkhags where as around 65 percent of the voters are from the rest of Bhutan. Further, the highest voter turnout during the recent national council election was from the southern region.
During the election due to the higher number of of Lhotshamphs, language is the main barrier for the people as well as for the candidates to educate them on the manifestos and pledges especially during the common forums and public debate.
Dagana has total of 24,570 registered voters from two constituencies with 14 gewogs. Drinking water problem is the common issue faced in the dzongkhag in almost all the gewogs. The dzongkhag is one of the remotest in the south.
Tshendagang gewog gup Bal Bdr. Rana said that drying water sources is the commonly faced problem in the region where more than six gewogs are currently suffering due to water shortage since the past few years. “We are expecting that the road connectivity will be reached to all the gewogs and that the highway construction will be completed soon after the beginning of 12th plan”
The other issue he pointed out was the issue with land conversion. “Due to shortage of water, the need for land conversion for other fruitful purposes would be important of the people”
Drujeygang-Tseza candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sonam Dorji said the dzongkhag plays a vital role during the primary round of election due to higher number of voters compared to other constituencies in different dzongkhags. He said the important developmental activities much needed in the dzongkhag would be black topping of gewog connectivity roads which would open the door for the commercial farming and other developmental activities.
Till Maya, 38 from Goshi gewog said, “I wish whichever party comes to power sorts out the census issue” she said adding that this is her earnest wish from the government.
With four constituencies, Samtse has the second highest number of voters with 47,360 registered voters next to Trashigang. In terms of voter turnout, the dzongkhag had the highest voter turnout during the national council election this year.
Druk Phuensum Tshogpas (DPTs) candidate from Phuntshopelri- Samtse constituency Kamal Dan Chamling said, “The main issue in the dzongkhag at the individual level is the census and land issue” he said adding that census issue is mostly common in the southern dzongkhags like Samtse.
Other secondary issues he said is the human-wildlife conflict, farm roads and irrigation channels. He said the dzongkhags strategic distribution of constituencies and huge number of eligible voters would play a very vital role during the election.
Norbugang gewog gup, Kinga Wangdi said the most important pledge made by any party is PDP’s pledge to increase the gewog budget. “But I think the government needs to prioritize the allocation of the budget based on population and developmental activities in the gewogs because some gewogs may not even need the half of budget while it would be insufficient for some gewogs.”
Tading gewog gup said the main issue in the gewog is the need for proper farm roads for the commercial farming.
A 29-year old civil servant from Phuntshopelri said the dzongkhag is a potential region for development with the border connectivity and high population in the region.
Sarpang has 30,183 registered voters from twelve gewogs for the upcoming elections. The dzongkhag is famous for its issue with human-wildlife conflicts and other border issues.
However, other developmental activities such as road connectivity and improved drinking water system are also some essential needs of the people of Sarpang.
Dekiling gewog gup Padam Singh Mongar said the increase in the budget allocation for the gewog would be essential for the developmental activities and wellbeing of the people.
Bishnu Bdr., 32 from Jigmecholing gewog said that the main challenges for the people during the election are in knowing their candidates and their manifestos. “People are only familiar about the two old parties” he said, adding this could be due to the language barrier.
At the individual level he said the upcoming government needs to address census issues and eradicate race discrimination among the people. “We are all people of the same country, therefore there shouldn’t be any terms such as ‘Jagas’ or any other discriminating terms.”
A candidate of Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) from Gelephu constituency Karma Donnen Wangdi said that Maukhola Bridge is the main issue the Gelephu. “This connects people and places and other developmental activities naturally follow when the issues of connectivity are solved”.
He also said that with highest number of voters from Gelephu constituency in the country, the region plays a very important role for primary round.
Tsirang has a total of 23,696 voters from two constituencies. The region is best known for the agriculture rich and the orange cultivation.
However, the dzongkhag demands for the boost in commercial farming reaching to all parts of the dzongkhag. Tsirangtoed Gup Nar Bdr. Rai said, “What is most essential for the farmers are their agricultural products to be sold and to make a living out of it” he added that this would mean that there needs to be smooth flowing road for the business to run as desired.
Gosarling and Tsirangtoed gewog gups said the essential issues need to be addressed are land issues, irrigation channel for farming and proper road connectivity. They also highlighted about the need for improved health services in gewog level.
Semjong gewog gup Top Nath Acharya said the main issues among the people in the region is the census registration problem.