Chhoekhor-Tang constituency bye-election: weighing the odds

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The Chhoekhor-Tang bye-election in Bumthang could be a tightly contested race, with the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) hopefully having to do a tremendous level of footwork, if the current ground realities in the constituency are any indication.

Since the parties declared their respective candidates, Tenzin Norbu of DPT and Dawa of DNT, there has been rising wagers as to who will win the bye-election.

Factors favoring DPT candidate

Tenzin Norbu is the son of a rich and influential father, who served as councilor and DPT Dzongkhag coordinator during the elections. He has the greater voter bank for now.

The Chhoekhor-Tang dynamics (Chhoekhor has larger voter base against Tang. Chhoekhorpas may want to elect their own candidate this time. There are 6,051 registered voters in Chhoekhor-Tang constituency).

Dawa is from Tang, a constituency of lower eligible voter bank. He must campaign more than his opponent.

Dawa’s uncle (former OL was incumbent candidate for three years representing Bumthang in NA). Dawa’s twin brother is representing Bumthaps in NC. Bumthaps are represented to the nation by their family. People might change their opinion this time. MP Nima is already in NC. So do Bumthaps really want to elect another son from the same family to NA? 

The DPT candidate has also lived in Bumthang, so many in the grassroots know him personally.

Angry PDP supporters could play spoilsport for Dawa. Will the PDP supporters vote for Dawa?

PDP voters in 2013 general round were 1,393 votes and during the 2018 primary round it was 1,048. PDP has strong voter base after DPT.

Factors favoring Dawa

Experience, good communication skills and his popularity could win a substantial number of postal ballot votes because he is a known face.

The DPT candidate is young and inexperienced; many voters outside Bumthang do not know him. He may not be able to win the postal ballot votes.

Being the nephew of the former OL would add a plus point. Also being a candidate of a ruling government would prove to be an advantage for him.

People’s view

One of the voters from Bumthang said that the DPT candidate is an inexperienced young man who is involved in helping his family’s business. “He will represent Bumthaps in the opposition party. Don’t find any logic in his victory. Even if he wins, Bumthaps will lose after all. An OL is better than a MP in ruling party and a MP in ruling party is better than a MP in Opposition party,” he added.

Seeking anonymity a political observer said that Bumthang district is known for producing prominent figures and history is evidence. “If I compare the two candidates then Dawa is a very capable candidate,” he said.

Kuenzang Thinley, the PDP candidate of Chhoekhor-Tang constituency said that he as a candidate,  would  rely on his own choice. “As a PDP candidate, we have not asked our supporters whom to vote and whom not to vote. We will not intervene, it is completely their choice. I personally have not done that either. It is the voter’s choice,” he said.

A voter based in Thimphu said it will be a tough competition between the two candidates since one of them has a strong voter bank while another is a popular figure.

In 2018, former OL secured 3,251 votes while his opponent Dawa of DNT received 1,536 votes out of the total 6,051 registered voters in Chhoekhor-Tang constituency.

The former OL resigned to join as the Director General of International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), an international organization. The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has announced that the bye-elections in Bumtnang’s Chhoekhor-Tang constituency will be held on November 19.

Chencho Dema from Thimphu

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