As the primary round of National Assembly elections comes round the corner, some of the voters in Phuentsholing are still faced with limited knowledge on the candidates and the parties.
The nation will go to the polling booth on September 15. With cardamom and other cash crops’ season at its peak, the people are said to be engaged in the fields according to the farmers which resulted in skipping public meetings and the campaigns.
Today most of the farmers are busy with cardamom and paddy weeding works which they feel is more important than attending the public meetings. “Since we are busy with farm work, we rely on others who attended the meetings for information,” said Harka Bdr Rana from Logchina gewog. He accepts the fact that information can be manipulated based on the interest of that person’s choice of particular party. “Therefore we ask the opinion of some important people for the party to vote for before the elections,” he said. He does not know all the candidates contesting this year.
Another man from Logchina said that villagers get exhausted during the day and do not get time to watch the common forum on television. He feels a briefing from the candidates would suffice his desire to choose the candidates on poll day. “We will listen to them a few days before the elections so that we can get time to choose,” he said.
Lack of television, which is one of the sources for political information in most of the households, is also considered a barrier according to the voters. Almost 40% of the households in Logchina do not have access to Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) connection. “So we rely on few individuals who have the ideas,” said Hari Kumar Chhetri, 26, from Logchina. He further said that villages which are sparsely populated do not have the luxury to talk and discuss about politics. “Otherwise, we could discuss during our free time,” he said.
Phuentsholing constituency has 10,737 registered voters according to the Election Commission of Bhutan. So far, party presidents of all the parties have made a single tour each in the constituency.
Meanwhile, other voters are familiarizing themselves with the candidates and the parties. “Since people have gradually started attending meetings, they know the party candidates and the presidents,” said Padam Bdr. Ghalley from Ramitey. He said that the candidates are also campaigning door-to-door after the presidential debate last month adding that lack of interest in politics is one of the factors for not knowing the candidates. People being busy tend to consider it secondary and focus on their daily chores, he said.
People’s Democratic Party won both the seats in Chhukha dzongkhag in the last election and Druk Phuensum Tshogpa in the first parliamentary election.
Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing