As the Primary Round of Election showed, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) did well in all the six constituencies in the three southern dzongkhags of Dagana, Tsirang and Sarpang.
In these three dzongkhags, DNT secured 24,810 total votes from the six constituencies followed by 17,289 votes secured by People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and 10,445 votes that went to Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT). Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party secured 6,201 votes from the three dzongkhags.
In addition, DNT dominated in three constituencies out of the six constituencies in Samtse and Chukha and did well in the other three. DPT came third in most of these seats except in Dopuchen-Tading where DPT won and Gelephu where it came second. This puts DNT in a clear position to sweep southern Bhutan.
Sarpang had a voter turnout of 62 percent during the primary round, of the total of 30,183 registered voters. Both the constituencies had cast the maximum votes to DNT.
In Shompangkha constituency, DNT secured 3,271 votes followed by PDP with 2,519 votes. DPT with 1,342 votes and BKP with 983 votes in the constituency, out of the total of 8,115 valid votes cast in the constituency,
DPT candidate, Deo Kumar Rimal, from Shompangkha said the main advantage for the DNT conquest in the south is mainly attributed to the party president’s repeated visit to the south and his ability of being well-versed in ‘lhotsham kha’. “They also seem to have done an extensive ground work deploying people.” Apart from this he said the main barrier for the candidates in the south, in general, is mainly the language barrier.
A 51-year-old voter from Shompangkha constituency, Padam Lal Katel, said, “Since democracy is just so young in the country, the voting becomes like an assessment for the people to see which party serves well by giving chance to a new party in every five years,” he added that people may choose a final one in the future after an opportunity is given to different parties.
He said that PDP’s second highest vote in the region could be due to its performance in the five years. “PDP did extremely well which is why the votes got divided between DNT and PDP, but as I said, people want to give opportunity to new parties.”
LN Acharya, 67, from Doban said that most people are delighted over manifesto of DNT, which promises to do away with the cut-off point for class ten and six month maternity salary. “This really would help the many poor people in the country.”
In Gelephu constituency, DNT secured 3,488 votes followed by DPT which secured 3,368 votes and PDP with 2,436 votes.
DNT’s candidate from the constituency, Karma Donnen Wangdi, said the people voted for change. “People mainly looked at our manifesto and the change which we offer to the people, which is why people have opted for us although we are a new party.”
DPT’s candidate, Pema Tashi, said, “DNT’s popularity is evident as the party president, as a doctor, did a lot of ground work for political mileage in the south thinking that eastern Bhutan would be a weak area for them,” adding further, “He also has an added advantage for having fluent delivery in the local dialect.”
However, he said the result in general round may just be contradictory. “People came to realization that their pledges are fluctuating and unrealistic.”
Nima Jasher, 32, from Gelephu said that although there party manifestos are similar, however, people are now voting for change. “Our constituency might probably go for DNT in the final since the candidate is capable and has brought us some efficient pledges.”
Dagana had 90.8 percent of voter turnout during the primary round election making it the highest turnout in Bhutan.
DNT, during the primary round, secured total of 9,199 votes from Dagana followed by PDP with 7,656 votes, DPT received 2,900 total votes while BKP had 2,379 votes. There are 24,570 total registered voters in Dagana from 14 gewogs, out of which 22,134 voted.
In Lhamoizingkha- Tashiding constituency, DNT acquired maximum votes with 3,135 votes followed by PDP with 2,494. DPT secured 874 votes while BKP secured 634.
DNT’s candidate, Hemant Gurung, said that the party’s victory in the region is attributed to party’s ideology of closing the gap between the rich and the poor. “Secondly, the president is also a very well-known doctor for the services he has provided to the people even before joining the politics.” He further said, “The victory is mainly due to the south and the large number of voters from south and people understood the prime commitment of the party.”
DPT’s candidate, Prem Kumar Khatiwara, said the people’s shift in faith towards the new party is not logical. “We have the advantage of knowing the people for last ten years and experience of having served both as ruling and the opposition.” He suspects that DNT was very aggressive in recruiting members.
DPT’s coordinator, Kaka, said that while the DNT manifesto has attracted people to vote for party, and PDP received the second highest number of votes in the region due its strong base of supporters in the region.
Karna Badhur Powdel, 63, from Lhamoidzingkha said, “The manifesto for health, promising to provide doctors in every BHU and health facility at the doorstep would be very helpful for the place like, Dagana where geographical terrain is very steep, where during rainfall it’s difficult to travel in summer.” However, he said one can’t be attracted just by the few promises and pledges while overall benefit for the country needs to be seen.
In Drujeygang-Tzeza constituency, DNT scored 6,064 total votes and DPT scored 2,026 votes. PDP scored 5,162 votes while BKP scored 1,745 votes.
The candidates from the constituency could not be reached for their comments. However, a 42-year-old voter, Thinley Wangchuk, from Drujeygang shared his thoughts on the election. He said that over the years people have become well educated and can understand party manifestos and voting procedure.
“As a farmer, health is the first priority in our lives since we make our living by doing daily manual work,” he said, adding that the door-to-door health facility for the people, maternity payment for the women and doing away the cut-off points for the class ten really defines the party ideology of narrowing the gap between rich and the poor.
“We expected PDP and DNT in the final round because I’ve always appreciated the work done by PDP in last ten years,” he said. He added that there is a high probability for DNT to win in the general round due to its pledges focused on helping the poor.
Like the two preceding dzongkhags, DNT marked it victory in both the constituencies in the dzongkhag Overall, DNT has secured 5,779 total votes from Tsirang followed by PDP with 4,761 votes followed by DPT and BKP. Tsirang has total of 23,696 registered voters of which 14,748 voters turned out in the primary round.
In Kilkhorthang- Mendrelgang constituency, of the total of 7,604 voters of, 3,073 votes went to DNT, 2,352 to PDP, 1,419 votes for DPT and 760 to BKP.
DPT’s candidate, Yangku Tshering, said that reason is not identifiable as to why DPT lost in the region, but the DNT’s win could be accredited to the party’s manifesto and presidential visits.
DNT’s candidate, Bimal Thapa, said DNT’s victory is due to the party’s hard work and its manifesto. “The other reason could be that the people want to give opportunity to the new party.”
Prakash Kumar Chhettri, 47, from Kilkhorthang said, “Since voters are very much educated now, they know which manifesto or party would benefit them”. He said he was a PDP supporter since the last two terms. “From our gewog, most of us supported PDP but they lost due to the postal ballot,”
He further said, “As per what I hear from people, I bet DNT will form the next government as DPT has not done much in the southern region, and people want to give a chance to a new party.”
In Sergithang- Tsirang-toed constituency, DNT secured 2,706 votes and DPT scored 1,416 votes. PDP got 2,409 and BKP got 613 votes.
DNT’s candidate, Garja Man Rai, said that there was a stiff competition between PDP and DNT in the southern region, however, the victory for DNT means that the people want to provide an opportunity for a new party to form the government.
He said the constituencies’ main priority is enhancing health facilities and commercializing agriculture. “The former party has performed extremely well, but people want new party as a ruling government and expect more.”
Tek Bdr. Gurung, 70, from Tsirang-toed said, “DPT says that its manifesto would benefit in the long-term while we find DNT would benefit us in the present,” and added, “We never know about future as the younger generations are smarter, what we need is service which benefits us in the present.”