South’s political maverick who left DPT wants to return

“If Sangay Khandu is looking for greener pastures, it is his choice,” top DPT activist on Sangay Khandu’s plans to form new party


When this former Samtse chimi took a Bangkok flight after the 2008 elections to finish his graduation, it did not surprise anyone.

Sangay Khandu, the DPT’s main campaigner for southern Bhutan during elections missed the party ticket just because he was not a graduate. Politics watchers had no doubts that he was going to return and would stand in 2013.

And he has returned. But now, it is not sure if he would stand for DPT. Officially he is not with the party anymore. He had to resign after the party sent him a termination notice for not renewing his membership.

A party functionary told this paper that Sangay Khandu had abandoned the party that sent him for higher studies so that he could contest in the next elections.

But now Sangay Khandu is on the fence, after media reports that he is considering a new party. In December last year he said that seeing the support he has, he is confident to form a new party.

But talking to The Bhutanese, this 35-year-old, who is even considering contesting for National Council, said he is keeping all options open.

“DPT is like my house and this government has done enough for everyone.  So I will be waiting for the present government to dissolve to join the party again” said Sangay Khandu.

But this time, if Sangay Khandu returns to DPT, it would not be as a campaign manager. The party will have to give him a ticket, and then MP Durga Prasad Chettri of Sibsoo constituency from where Sangay Khandu hails, will see some serious competition.

Sangay Khandu has received invitations from other parties to join them. But he said his first choice is always DPT.

The Bhutanese talked to DPT secretary general, Thinley Gyamtsho, who said nothing could be finalized on who would get a party ticket.

“It is all up to the people to choose the candidate, so DPT has not decided anything regarding Sangay Khandu,” he said.

Opinions are mixed regarding Sangay Khandu’s influence in the south, especially Samtse. A few days before the 2008 March elections, Kuensel talked to voters there. It said the main reason why DPT, a late entrant into the political fray then, could sway voters to their side was Sangay Khandu.

Durga Prasad Chhetri, who declined to say anything on Sangay Khandu when this paper contacted him yesterday was all praises for him in 2008. “Sangay Khandu is a popular figure here. He’s outspoken, and maintains a close rapport with the people,” he then told Kuensel.

Sibsoo, with the highest number of voters of all the four constituencies in Samte dzongkhag, where in favor of Sangay Khandu, the paper wrote.

But 2013 could be different. A DPT member, who is aware of the political pulse in the dzongkhag, said that things have changed since 2008. People are now more aware of what is happening in Thimphu. The Constituency Development Grant could have helped DPT strengthen its base in the grassroots. And more over, there are new parties in the ring.

“it is really going to be competitive (in 2013) and more parties means it is going to be tougher,”  said Sangay Khandu.

But he is preparing.

With just an year away for the elections, Sangay Khandu is in Samtse now making up for his three years of absence from the dzongkhag.

“I can interact with the people and know their problems better. This would not be possible if I stay in Thimphu,” he said adding that the people of Samtse are wise.

Asked about possible threats to DPT if Sangay Khandu forms a party, a prominent activist said though ambitious and vocal, it would be difficult for Sangay Khandu to form a party alone.

He said that it would be difficult for Sangay Khandu to lead a team but he is a great team player. “He can voice out people’s need and more over he has a good network,” the party activist said. But he said the party is not really desperate to have Sangay Khandu back.

“If Sangay Khandu is looking for  greener pastures, it is his choice,” said the party activist.

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