Three are not re-contesting and two are not sure as of now
Out of the total 20 National Council (NC) members representing 20 Dzongkhags of the country, 14 incumbent NC members will be re-contesting in the upcoming NC elections this year.
Unlike the 2013 elections, incumbent NC members can re-contest now without having to resign from their posts. The parliament had made it possible for the incumbent members to re-contest without resigning by amending the NC Act of 2008 in 2014.
Among the incumbent members who have confirmed not re-contesting with Business Bhutan are NC representative from Dagana, Sonam Dorji, NC representative from Paro, Kaka Tshering, and the representative to the Upper House from Samtse, Sangay Khandu.
Meanwhile, the NC Chairperson and representative to the Upper House from Trashigang, Dasho Dr. Sonam Kinga, said he doesn’t want to comment anything on the issue right now.
NC member from Dagana, Sonam Dorji, reasoned that people have given him 10 years to serve the NC and that he will give opportunity to other aspiring candidates now.
Similarly, NC member Kaka Tshering said he will give opportunity to other aspiring candidates, adding that he does not have any second plan.
NC member Sangay Khandu said he contested in 2013 elections with full determination that he will serve for the tenure of one term. “My tenure is completing and I don’t want to re-contest for next elections,” he said.
He added that he cannot say whether he would join other political parties. “I have not yet decided to join political parties, since I have to be apolitical till the term ends,” he said.
Similarly, another two NC members who are undecided whether they should be re-contesting in the upcoming NC elections are Rinzin Dorji from Punakha and Jigmi Rinzin from Pemagatshel.
NC member Rinzin Dorji said if there are more aspiring candidates from his Dzongkhag he will give opportunity to them. However, he said if there are fewer aspiring candidates, he may re-contest.
Similarly, NC member Jigmi Rinzin said, “I have served for ten years; I want to give opportunity to those aspiring candidates now.”
He added that people have lately requested him to re-contest and depending upon the situation he may re-contest. “So I am inclining towards re-contesting,” he said.
Meanwhile, most of the NC members are on their final visit to their constituency and also informing people of what they have discussed in the last session. Many members will be back to Thimphu by February and they are waiting for the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) to come out the notification for upcoming elections.
The incumbent NC members are also upbeat that there are many aspiring candidates contesting in the upcoming elections compared to the previous elections. They say it is good to have many choices for the people.
According to them, in a democracy people need to have more choices. More choices mean better choices for people and better candidates.
NC member from Trongsa, Tharchen said it is good to have many candidates. However, he cautioned that there is risk. “So many choices of candidates may compromise in electing the right candidate,” he added.
And asked on the advantages the incumbent members have over the new aspiring candidates, the members said though they are familiar with their constituency and they know more issues, it would depend on the people in terms of winning.
Meanwhile, as per provision that was added as section 15(A), a member of NC intending to participate in the next NC elections shall not be required to resign and may contest while in office.
The NC elections have been scheduled from February to May this year, while the incumbent NC members will complete their term on May 9.
Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu