Thimphu: The withdrawal of subsidy on kerosene and cooking gas by India seems to have become a major poll issue in the second national elections in Bhutan. The polling is slated to be held on Saturday.

With people expressing concern over the subsidy withdrawal, the Bhutan government has asked New Delhi for a re-look on its decision.
     
Though India has not made any statement, the subsidy issue has become a hot topic in the elections. "Many Bhutanese are hurt and angered by the timing (of subsidy cuts), and feel it is a deliberate move to rock elections," an English daily said in its editorial.     

READ MORE: Will discuss fuel subsidy with new Bhutan government, says India

Word that India is contemplating withdrawing the excise duty refund in addition to the subsidy cut also "got the electorate worried"."It is once again about the state of Indo-Bhutan relations, which has been politicized to such an extent, no one would have ever guessed it would be that way," the editorial in the daily said.
    
The duty refund procedure is governed by the Bhutan-India free trade agreement, which was renewed in 2006 and is up for renewal bin 2016.
    
According to the agreement, both governments agreed to provide appropriate refund to be mutually decided annually in respect of excise duties on goods of its origin exported to the other.
    
For goods brought from open market, the refund is to be calculated on the total value of goods, downsized by 40 percent. There are 94 candidates for 47 constituencies. There are 3,81,790 registered voters and 80,000 postal voters. The number of female voters is 187,917.

India provides EVMs, CEC Sampath in Bhutan to witness polls

    
India has provided 1,935 electronic voting machines to Bhutan for the country's second national elections.
    
Bhutan has also invited Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath as the lone observer for the elections. Sampath, who arrived here Friday, said all 1,935 electronic voting machines being used in the polls have been given by the Election Commission of India. "It is heartening to see democracy growing in Bhutan," he said here.
    
Sampath is the only Chief Election Commissioner who has been invited by Bhutan Election Commissioner to witness the election process here.

Bhutan elections

Bhutan has a tri-cameral Parliament of the King, National Council and the National Assembly. There are 25 seats in the National Council or Upper House. Five of them are appointed by the King and 20 elected from 20 districts.
    
National Assembly or Lower House consists of 47 members elected from 47 constituencies. Representatives to both Houses were elected first in 2008.
    
Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) is the ruling party in Bhutan while major opposition party is the People's Democratic Party (PDP).

Highest number of voters is in Satse, 41,769, followed by Trashigang,41,510. Capital Thimphu has 12,453 voters. Lowest number of voters is in Gasa, 1,842 voters. About 10,000 officers, including security personnel on election duty.

JPN/Agencies

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