As the Primary Round of National Assembly Election 2018 results show, it is Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) that has an outright or absolute majority in all the three constituencies in Pemagatshel.
It seems not even the combination of two or more political parties can beat DPT’s landslide victory numbers.
DPT secured a total of 10,718 votes from the three constituencies in Pemagatshel (5,923 postal ballot votes and 4,795 Electronic Voting Machine votes). DPT got 3,561 votes from Nanong Shumar constituency, 3,112 votes from Nganglam constituency and 4,045 votes from Khar Yurung constituency.
DPT’s candidate, Lungten Namgyel, said, “In the Primary Round of National Assembly Election DPT bagged the highest votes from all the three constituencies in Pemagatshel, but we don’t think that we shall win again in all the constituencies or form the government because if voters change their mind, DNT could win in the general election.”
DNT candidate, Pema Wangda, said, “If the voting pattern of the primary round continues, my chance of winning in the general round is very slim. I am, however, going to use all my energy to make the last push.”
He said, “I cannot speak for Pemagatshel, as a dzongkhag as there are three constituencies and three candidates. As for Nanong Shumar, it appears to be DPT’s stronghold, as the party and its candidates won in all the past NA elections. Moreover, people of Nanong Shumar believe that DPT brought development to the constituency after forming the government in 2008, and they feel that they owe their gratitude and allegiance to the party.”
“The priorities in the constituency are drinking water, repairing and maintaining farm roads and widening and maintenance of Tshelingor to Gypsum mine road,” he said.
Sonam, 63, from Nanong gewog said, “All the three constituencies including Nanong Shumar are DPT’s stronghold, and most people including the civil servants voted for DPT. No matter what PDP did for the people, people voted for DPT.”
DPT’s candidate, Tshering Chhoden, said, “Prior to 2008, Pemagatshel was considered as one of the poorest dzongkhag in the country where people did not have access to even basic amenities like, reliable road, water supply and electricity among others.”
She said, “After DPT formed the government in 2008, basic facilities like, reliable road and water supply, electricity and marketing of agricultural produce was made accessible, and people believe that if they provide DPT a chance to form the government again in 2018, DPT could do more in developing the dzongkhag.”
The DPT candidate said, “When PDP came to power in 2013, PDP did not do anything for the people, and in fact Pemagatshel like many other remote places, were ignored and most of the developmental activities were concentrated in urban areas.”
She said limited access to water supply for drinking and irrigation, poor condition of roads and marketing of agricultural produce resulting from poor road condition are some of the major issues in all the constituencies in Pemagatshel.
Sangay Norbu, 42, DPT’s coordinator said, “Firstly, DPT is strong in Pemagatshel because DPT was the first government and during its tenure DPT brought so many development in the dzongkhag. People, especially in the villages, were happy with DPT and they feel that they owe their gratitude and allegiance for making their lives more comfortable.”
He said, “Apart from villagers, most civil servants voted for DPT because now civil servants don’t have to go to their respective villages to vote, but can easily vote through postal ballot and facilitation booths.”
“DPT is powerful in the dzongkhag because the party’s manifesto is realistic and people have seen the good work they did when they were in government”, he added.
Karma Tenzin, 41, said, “DPT will win in all the three constituencies in the dzongkhag and even if PDP and BKP combine with DNT, they shall not win because DPT is very strong in east, especially Pemagatshel and Mongar.”
He said, “Former Prime Minister Jigme Y Thinley brought so many development for the dzongkhag and people believe that they owe him respect and love for all the work he did when he was the Prime Minister.”
Karma Dorji, DNT’s candidate said, “In the primary round, DPT secured highest votes but that does not mean that DPT will win in general election too because if people change their mind and vote for DNT, it will win in general election.”
He said, “If DNT wins the general election and forms the government, we will provide better health services and improve the condition of roads. DNT President also said that if DNT wins and forms the government, DNT will appoint two ministers and the Speaker from the dzongkhag.”
Apart from the developmental reasons given officially, observers said that a big factor at play in Pemagatshel is that this was the home constituency of the former DPT President and the voters have identified DPT with their own sense of political identity. From all voting patterns and ground indications the entire Dzongkhags looks like it will vote for DPT for a long time to come despite the best efforts of DNT.