Nine candidates vie for Sarpang NC seat

… a lone female candidate among 9 candidates   

Lhakpa Quendren | Gelephu

Of the 18 aspiring candidates in Sarpang for the National Council elections 2023, four aspirants withdrew, while two were disqualified.

Three lost to their opponents in the dhamngoi zomdu which ended on March 5.

All the nominees have filed their nomination to the office of the returning officer before March 9 and their nomination documents will be scrutinised latest by tomorrow.

Going by the records with the dzongkhag election office, 15 percent or 5,000 including 2,375 female voters turned up at the zomdus. The dzongkhag has a total of 33,792 registered voters.

Given the poor turnout at the nomination meetings, the dzongkhag election office recommended the need for temporary measures in the electoral systems to encourage more participation, especially for the voters between 18 and 40 years.

The candidates

Of the 12 gewogs and Gelephu Thromde in Sarpang, Jigme Chhoeling, Samtenling, and Tareythang gewogs and the thromde did not nominate any candidates.

Chhudzom gewog nominated 37-year-old Deo Kumar Rimal from Lhayuel village with 407 Yes against 36 No votes.

He has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from South India, and worked in private firms for about 11 years. He also contested in the general elections of the National Assembly 2018.

Deo Kumar said that securing 93 percent of votes from his gewog was encouraging. “It shows the level of trust and faith the public put in me. I feel overwhelmed by their support.”

After securing 309 Yes votes out of the total 414 at the dhamngoi zomdu, Dorji Dukpa, 56, from Koenchholing village has been nominated as an NC candidate from Shompangkha gewog.

The former livestock officer has a Master of Science in Communication, Innovation, and Rural Development from the United Kingdom. He worked with the livestock department for over 28 years.

“Having served 17 years in Sarpang during my civil service, I was hopeful the people would support me,” he said.

Serzhong gewog nominated Pema Tashi, 38, from Serzhong village with 516 of 695 votes in his favour. The other aspirant candidate was Jigme Dorji from Tashiphu village.

He holds a postgraduate diploma in national law from the Royal Institute of Management and a B.A. LLB from Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri College of Law, India. He worked for over 13 years in government and private firms.

“As a lawyer and having contested in the 2018 NC elections, I was encouraged to take part in this year’s elections as well,” he said.

From Umling Gewog, 42-year-old Dechen Lhaden from Rijoog village has booked her place in the upcoming elections. She secured 374 Yes votes and 52 No votes.

The lone female NC candidate from Sarpang has a Bachelor of Business administration from ICFAI University in India and worked for over 20 years in private and corporations.

“I didn’t expect such overwhelming support from my gewog. The road ahead is arduous but I feel more encouraged and confident to compete against male opponents,” she said.

The majority of voters at the Chhuzergang gewog voted in favour of Khari Lal Gurung, 39, from Barthang village with 309 Yes votes against 79 No votes.

After graduating from the North Bengal University in India with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, he has been engaged in agriculture farming besides working as a freelance cultural tour guide. He also contested the 2018 NC elections.

“Working as a farmer for over 13 years, I have close relationships with the villagers. Most of the people live in the village, and I was confident to secure the nomination from my gewog,” he said.

After securing 663 Yes votes and 69 No votes, 42-year-old San Badhur Monger from Dekiling village is the nominee from Dekiling gewog.

He has a Bachelor of Commerce from the North Bengal University in India and worked in a private institute and business entity for 12 years.

“Since I was the lone candidate from my gewog, I was a bit confident to win but I have never expected such huge support from the people of my gewog,” he said.

In Gelephu Gewog, 36-year-old Kuenga from Pelrithang Khatoed won with 454 votes against the two other aspiring candidates Namgay Pem and Rajan Kumar Kafley who secured 169 votes and 45 votes, respectively.

Kuenga holds a Master’s in Biochemistry from Assam Down Town University, India, and a Bachelor of Education from the Samtse College of Education.

He worked in the schools of Gelephu for 13 years. He said, “I did not face any difficulty in knowing the people and places of my gewog. I did not have any Gothrip during my familiarisation tour.”

Rajesh Rai, 51, from Yarphelling village has been nominated as an NC candidate by Singye gewog with 232 Yes votes and 32 No votes.

The former school principal holds a Master’s in Educational Leadership and Management from the Paro College of Education and a postgraduate diploma in English from Sherubtse College. He worked for over 23 years as a teacher.

“I was confident to get through from my gewog. But I also knew that I would not receive the full support as I missed meeting some people during my familiarisation tour,” he said.

The incumbent NC member, Anand Rai, 39, from Gatemkha village is a nominee from the Gakiling gewog after securing 432 Yes and 63 No votes during the zomdu.

He has a BA in History (honours) from North-Eastern Hill University, India, and over 14 years of working experience in managing his private firm.

“I was confident to win from my gewog given my experience in the Parliament and the support I continue to receive from the supporters. However, I am not very confident about the poll day,” he said.

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