Although Trashigang is considered as the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s (DPT) stronghold since 2008, however, there are chances of it losing up to four of the five constituencies as DPT won them by only narrow margins during the Primary Round of National Assembly Election 2018.
In all four constituencies, PDP candidates came a respectable third and are in a strong position to influence the outcome.
DNT’s strong position in the east’s largest Dzongkhag may undo the myth of the east being an exclusive DPT stronghold. The results here may also very well decide who forms the government.
DPT has a strong position in the Bartsham-Shongphu constituency only.
In Wamrong constituency, DPT got 2,083 votes, DNT got 1, 625 votes, PDP got 1,130 votes and BKP won 502 votes in total.
DPT’s candidate, Karma Thinley, said, “People should vote for the party based on its manifesto and candidate’s capability. But today, people get influenced by small things they are offered.”
He said, “If PDP versus DPT factor prevails, DPT has very less chances of winning in the general election.”
DNT’s candidate, Jigme Wangdi, said, “I personally consider Trashigang as an undeniably important dzongkhag for the upcoming general election. Trashigang, is the largest dzongkhag from all and with the highest number of voters emerging from the dzongkhag, it can make a major difference in the outcome. If we can convince the people of Trashigang, we are two steps ahead.”
He said people are hard to convince and are resistant to the change as they are loyal to the previous candidates in that constituency.
“People fail to see the strengths of the present candidates which is why I have always prioritized my campaigning around the villages and have visited every household leaving no stones unturned. This was my priority and this will be my priority. Only when the crowd gets to know one, does one gain trust and faith,” he added.
DPT secured a total of 2,741 votes in Kanglung Samkhar Udzorong followed by DNT with 2,350 votes. PDP won 1,941 votes and BKP secured 450 votes.
This is difference of just 391 votes between DPT and DNT.
DNT’s candidate, Tenzin Namgay, said, “In the primary round, the former Education Minister, Norbu Wangchuk and I stood from Kanglung where we had to compete from the same gewog. Since I come from Kanglung, I hope people will put their trust and confidence in me and extend their continued support in the finals.”
He said, “Moreover, we have visionary and realistic pledges, which will bring immense benefits to the country and the people should allow DNT to form the government. Upgrading Kanglung BHU-I to Multi-Disciplinary General Hospital, a Central School in Bikhar, new Lhakhang for Kadam in Khabti and blacktopping of Udzorong road, would play a vital role in garnering support from my constituents.”
Tenzin Namgay said Kanglung-Samkhar-Udzorong constituency wanted change. “In 2008, our people voted for DPT, which formed the government. In 2013 people chose PDP. Now I think they will definitely go for DNT. It simply indicates how intelligent the people of my constituency are, in term of exercising democratic principles and reaping the benefits. In addition, I think most of the people including PDP and BKP supporters want change and new hope, which DNT has.”
The DPT candidate declined to comment saying he was very busy.
In Radhi-Sakteng constituency, the contest is much closer with DNT having the edge for now. DPT won 2,392 votes and DNT got 2,117 votes. PDP got 1,320 votes while BKP secured 729 votes.
DNT’s candidate, Dorji Tshering, said, “I can win if the majority of PDP voters come out and vote for me.”
He said, “Trashigang is important as a dzongkhag because it has the highest population and highest number of seats.” The candidate acknowledged that DNT is not as strong in the east compared the west and south.
Phurpa Wangdi, DPT coordinator said, “In our constituency, DPT was not so strong in the primary round because there were four candidates of which three candidates from PDP, DPT and BKP were from Radhi gewog and only DNT’s candidate was from Sakteng. So in primary round, Radhi’s votes got divided into three candidates but in general all of Radhi’s votes will go to DPT.”
He said, “There are a total of 9,855 registered voters with 3,077 from Phongmed, 1,497 from Sakteng, 1,797 from Merak and 3,884 from Radhi.”
Jamtsho, 42, from Radhi said, “DPT was strong here in the past because voting in the past was influenced by others, especially the head of the family, and also there were people who thought that they are DPT supporter no matter what. Today, most people are aware that every individual has the right to vote independently.”
The DPT candidate was not available for comment despite repeated efforts.
DPT secured the highest votes of 1,712. while DNT got 1,431 votes, PDP won 1, 523 and BKP could secure only 227 votes. This effectively makes PDP the deciding vote in the constituency.
DPT’s candidate from Thrimshing, Chenga Tshering, said, “Although DPT secured the highest votes in the primary election, both DPT and DNT have equal chances in the general election. At the same time, I am also positive that DPT has more chances in winning.”
He said, “It is very important to educate the voters to vote for the right candidate, a candidate who is capable. I am saying that DPT has more chances because I strongly believe that in general election, people will vote for candidate who is capable and people see me as strong candidate.”
Chenga Tshering said, “In my constituency, human-wildlife conflict is the major issue, and I am trying to look at this issue and have come up with certain pledges. DPT will address the issue of human wildlife conflict by a combination of electric fencing and chain link fencing.”
He is also confident that a majority of PDP and BKP voters is with him.
Lobsang, 42, from Thrimshing said, “In the two gewogs Thrimshing and Kangpar, most of the people are likely to vote for DNT because people think that if DNT is given a chance to form the government, then DNT can fulfill its pledges which targets rural people.”
Minjur Tshering, 37, from Kangpara said, “In the primary election, people from Kangpar voted for PDP’s Lyonpo Dorji Choden, but now people are confused as to which party they should vote for. Most people might vote for DNT because of their pledges but there will be some voting for DPT too.”
From Bartsham Shongphu constituency, DPT secured a total of 3,377 votes while DNT got a total of 2,404 votes. PDP won 1,088 votes and BKP received 382 votes. This is one constituency where DPT is the favorite to win.
DPT’s candidate, Passang Dorji, from Bartsham Shongphu constituency said, “Trashigang dzongkhag given its high number of seats for National Assembly Election is crucial for both the parties but the election is based on people’s choice.”
He said, “In my constituency, road, farm mechanization, access to agricultural produce and human- wildlife conflicts are the major issues, and if DPT forms the government, we will definitely address such issues.”
“Apart from this, rural- urban migration is another major issue as many people from rural areas move to urban centers for better facilities like employment, education and health among others. Trashigang has the highest migration cases in the country and our country needs strong policy to address the issue of rural urban migration,” he added.
DNT’s candidate, Tenzin Lekphell, said, “Voters and people of Trashigang, while voting, consider the capability of the candidate and who is the best to lead the east. Development of Trashigang would mean development of the east.”
He said, “Well, I am very positive that people in my constituency will choose me because in the primary round people voted for party, but in the general round, people will choose the candidate and I feel that people find me capable.”
Tenzin Lekphell said, “Unlike in other constituencies in Trashigang, DPT is very strong in Bartsham-Shongphu because of DPT’s former candidate Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu who served DPT for 10 years. He has done so much for the people that they believe they owe their gratitude to him.”
He said in other constituencies, particularly Kanglung-Samkhar-Udzorong and Thrimshing, DPT is not that strong because the candidates from the two constituencies served as the ministers during the PDP government and they have more supporters.