Common forums not popular in Gelephu

Despite the constant efforts from the officials of the ECB and aspiring Thrompon candidates the voter’s turnout in common forum  has been very poor under Gelephu Thromde.

Sangay Rabten/ Gelephu

Despite officials of Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) and Thromde candidates calling their shots, not many is found keen on attending the ongoing common forum in the Gelephu Thromde elections.

Despite the race fully on, the two thrompon candidates for the upcoming thromde elections in Gelephu are unhappy with the poor turnout of voters in the common forums.

The common forum which began on 6 saw only 12 people attend the forum in Jampelling Demkhong that has the third-highest eligible voters in Gelephu thromde. Jampelling Demkhong has 279 eligible voters with 152 male and 127 female voters.

In Namkhaling Demkhong, only 39 voters attended the forum from 387 registered voters on 7th and only 50 individuals were present out of 228 registered voters in Rabdeyling Demkhong on 8th.

About 35 voters attended the forum in Samdrupling Demkhong from 322 registered voters while only eight voters attended the common forum held yesterday in Sonam Gatshel from 202 registered voters. 

Aruna Chhetri who attended the common forum said that she doesn’t know whether public are not showing interest or were they not informed. “Many did not come forward despite the importance to listen the manifesto of the candidates. Of course, many were not informed.”

Pema Choden from Namkhaling Demkhong said people need to understand the manifestos of the candidates and their true intent on contesting for the Throme posts.

“My job of getting myself informed is difficult and it will be difficult to understand the politicians. I don’t understand why people are not turning up for the forum,” she said.

78-year-old L.B Sabkota from the same Demkhong shared similar concerns. He said people should participate and understand their pledges to choose the most deserving or the right candidate.

Reman Gurung and Gyem Lham from Rabdeyling Demkhong said it is important to attend the forum but people are not turning up. Gyem Lham said, “People can choose best candidate only after understanding their qualities.”

However, Reman Gurung is optimistic that voters will turn up during the actual polling day.

Re-contesting for the post of thromde tshogpa from Rabdeyling Demkhong, Chimi said that although it is important to listen to the pledges, people are not turning up as they have to stay in the summer heat as there is no community hall in their locality.

Former Thrompon Tikaram Kafley who is running for the post for second time, said the thromde and election officials have informed the public but there are less people turning up for common forum.

He said that most of the people he contacted did not get information about the conduct of common forum. He also assumed that the voters are satisfied by the information passed during the door-to-door campaign. “Otherwise, there is no much purpose in conducting common forum if the attendance is very less,” he said.

Another Gelephu Thrompon candidate contesting for the third time from Tashiling Demkhong Tshering Norbu said that despite being important for voters to attend the forum for uniform understanding, and despite Thromde and ECB official doing their best to inform public, the turnover is very less.

He pointed out that with resignation of Thromde representatives there were no designated person to pass the information to the voters.

“The officials should have appointed interim personnel to impart the information,” he said. The reason he pointed for the low turnout was that the public must have been already bogged down by frequent meetings.

The Returning Officer (RO) Needup said that notification was issued through Sarpang Dzongkhag Administration facebook page while Thromde Administration informed public of the ongoing activities.

Speaking to Bhutan Times, the RO said that although it is important for public to attend such forum, it seems that many did not get the information or they simply chose not to come.

He said that while there were no proper and established communication channels at the grass root level it could be also because of COVID-19 protocol. He said the other reason could be due to not having proper meeting halls.

The last common forum for Gelephu Thromde election will be today in Samdrupling Demkhong which has 322 registered voters.