Affinity for change, party presidents popularity, and the promise of health services were the key factors that determined Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT)s fortune in Samtse on October 18.
DNT even won the Dophuchen-Tading constituency, which was won by Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) in the primary election. Observers expected a tough competition and DPT supporters had pinned their hope on it.
After the primary election, Dophuchen-Tading election race was more about getting the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) voters. The race for that was also very close.
As expected, the results also showed that it was a stiff competition as DNT candidate Loknath Sharma won by 91 votes against DPTs Thakur Singh Powdyel in the EVM. However, like in the primary round, Loknath Sharma received more postal ballot, which made the difference.
DNT managed 3,767 EVM votes against DPTs 3,676. In the postal ballot count, DNT secured 1,302 votes, while DPT managed 856 votes. In total, Loknath Sharma managed 5,069 votes against DPT Thakur Singh Powdyels 4,532. DNT won by a margin of 537 votes. In the primary election, the difference was 226 votes.
A Dorokha resident Nobchey Doya said DNT won due to two major reasons. One is that people wanted change in the government, he said. The last minute presidents visit made a huge difference.
Nobchey Doya said that DNT president was unable to visit the constituency during the build up to the primary round. This time the president visited and had peoples mind changed in the last minute.
Dophuchen-Tadings Pangzhing polling station had to allow voters to cast their votes even after 5pm as voters kept coming. Voting closed at 7:30pm.
Dophuchen-Tading had 13,231 registered voters, the highest from the four constituencies. A total of 9,601 turned up to vote. Postal ballot was the main factor for DNT win in this constituency.
Many believed that PDPs move to replace its former candidate added advantage for other parties in Tashichhoeling constituency. However, DNT candidate Dil Maya Rai had won in the primary election. A popular candidate, she was confident to win.
On October 18, Dil Maya Rai won by a huge difference in both EVM and postal ballots. She secured a total of 6,032 votes4,495 EVM votes and 1,537 postal ballots. DPTs Durga Prasad Chhetri received 604 postal ballots and 2,845 EVM votes.
At Samtse town, which falls under Phuentshogpelri-Samtse constituency, a resident said that people voted for DNT because they wanted change. Manifesto is secondary, he said, adding that people wanted a new government.
Voters here are intelligent, he said.
The businessman said Samtse people always voted for change in Samtse and cited the last two parliamentary elections. This pattern should be a message for any new party for the future, he added.
On the poll day in Phuentsjogpelri-Samtse constituency, Dal Bahadur Ghalley, 80 from Dhapar said water, both for drinking and irrigation were the major problems in his village.
However, I keep busy herding cows most of the time, he said, just before queuing to vote. I hope my sons have told this to the candidates.
Phuentshogpelri-Samtse went to PDP during the primary and DPT had received the lowest votes. On October 18, DNTs Ganesh Ghimiray won by a huge margin and secured 5,332 votes against DPT candidate Kamal Dhan Chamlings 2,557 total votes.
In Ugyentse-Yoeseltse constituency, the race was between two Pardhans, DNTs Dinesh Kumar Pradhan and DPTs Lila Pradhan.
DNT won with 5,353 votes against Lila Pradhans 2,054.
On the poll day, Mon Maya Ghalley, 66, was not feeling well when she had come to cast her vote. She had brought her grand daughter, a class XI student in one of the schools in Thimphu to help her.
However, more than herself, Mon Maya Ghalley was worried about her son, who is in Thimphu, sick for a long time. She voted keeping in mind health services as primary reason.
My son has been sick for a long time and has been taking different medicines, she said. I voted for Dr Lotey Tsherings party with the expectation of help.
Dinesh Kumar Pradhan garnered a whopping of 4,010 EVM votes and 1,343 postal votes. Lila Pradhan had secured 1,511 EVM votes and just 543 postal ballots. Ugyentse-Yoeseltse constituency had 10,357 registered voters in this election but 7,407 people cast their votes through EVM and postal ballot
Meanwhile, voters turnout increased in all four constituencies in Samtse, as expected. People had come to vote and celebrate Dassain together. Most said the timing was right.
Rajesh Rai| Sipsu