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Opposition scores handsome win in Bhutan

Chander Suta Dogra
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In the run-up to polls, PDP focussed on strained ties with India

Changing scenario: Over 60 per cent of the electorate voted in the General Assembly elections held in Bhutan on Saturday. Here, a young voter flashes her identity card at a polling station in Deothang.— PHOTO: RITU RAJ KONWAR
Changing scenario: Over 60 per cent of the electorate voted in the General Assembly elections held in Bhutan on Saturday. Here, a young voter flashes her identity card at a polling station in Deothang.— PHOTO: RITU RAJ KONWAR

: The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), led by Tshering Tobgay has swept the elections to the General Assembly of Bhutan. It won 32 out of 47 seats, while the outgoing party, the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), managed to retain the remaining seats in the election in which 66. 07 per cent of the electorate voted.

The results were declared on the website of the Election Commission of Bhutan. It said a formal announcement would, however, be made on Sunday. The PDP, which made huge gains in Nepali-speaking southern Bhutan, won only 12 seats in the May primaries. It secured 32.5 per cent of the votes, against outgoing the DPT’s 44.5 per cent.

Much of the credit for the PDP’s victory is being attributed to the dynamic and vocal Mr. Tobgay, a former civil servant who, even with just two seats in the outgoing Assembly, put up a formidable and vocal opposition in the last five years. The focus of the party’s election campaign in the last few days was the “strained India-Bhutan relations,” where it laid the blame for withdrawal of subsidy on LPG and kerosene among other things, on the mishandling by the DPT. Mr Tobgay also did some smart informal mergers with the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), which lost the primaries, by fielding seven of their strongest candidates. He crafted his party's campaign around exposing what he described as “the DPT's hollow claims on Gross National Happiness” aimed more at an international audience which, he alleged, did not deliver tangible benefits to people. All except two of the Cabinet ministers who contested the elections retained their seats. The DPT also won in Thimphu and Paro towns. Saturday’s polls were also witnessed by India’s Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath who was a special invitee and visited several polling stations.

In the run-up to polls, PDP focussed on strained ties with India

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