By Tenzin Monlam
DHARAMSHALA, November 8: Tibetans living in Dharamshala today cast their ballots in the final round of election for the 9th Dharamshala Local Tibetan Assembly (LTA) in 12 different polling booths in and around Dharamshala.
With a dismal turnout of only 514 voters during the preliminary election, Dawa Rinchen, Dharamshala Tibetan Settlement Officer expressed his concern saying, “I feel the public is still not giving much importance to the grassroots democracy like the importance given to the election of Sikyong and Chithue. LTA election is an essential and important part to form a good democratic base.”
“Since we are in a democratic setup, it is important to give equal significance from the grassroots level. LTA is an important part of the local administration, which addresses the problems of the local residents. Therefore, it is important for the people to give more importance,” TPiE Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel told Phayul after casting his ballot.
Dharamshala Tibetan Settlement Office finalized 30 candidates after the preliminary rounds, of which only five women make the cut.
“The main work of the elected members is to work along with the settlement office to address the suggestions from the local Tibetan residents. Apart from the size, the function is similar that of the Tibetan parliament,” said Lobsang Wangyal, a Tibetan resident and a journalist.
The members of the LTA question the administration represented by the settlement officer during the two local assembly sessions, much like a Tibetan Parliament in Exile.
The tenure of each LTA is three years and the term of 8th LTA ends this year. Dharamshala TSO’s jurisdiction stretches from Upper TCV School in Upper Dharamshala to Gopalpur area, where Gopalpur TCV School is the prime Tibetan inhabited region.