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Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bhutan
PM Tshering Tobgay

On July 13, 2013, The opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) has won the secondever parliamentary election in Bhutan. The PDP won 32 of the country's 47 parliamentary seats.Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), the former ruling party, got 15 seats.

Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay , the president of the PDP, hasbe named prime minister of the new government.

Born on September 16, 1965, Tshering Tobgay is the eldest of six sons in the family and takes after his father, in features and height.

Schooled in Dr Graham's Homes and having seen his father work in the army, Tshering Tobgay had always wanted to be an army officer.

It's perhaps unusual for him to open up and talk about himself, but when he met some 30 college students in Gedu, he shared with them his ambition when he was young like them.Instead of appearing his class XII examination, he had filled the form to enroll into the army, he said. "But my dad withdrew my application and I returned to school and repeated class XII," he told the students.

Even as he continues to gear the "army haircut," Tshering Tobgay went on to study mechanical engineering at the university of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, USA, on a UN scholarship.He began his career as a programme officer with the technical and vocational section of the education department, and has a master's in public administration from Harvard University.

"He's a very quiet person, an introvert and we never thought he'd join politics," someone, who is close to him, said.

But it wasn't until the massive defeat in the 2008 elections for the PDP, and his appointment as the opposition leader, that the focus shifted to Tshering Tobgay.He was one of only two candidates that won in the 2008 elections.

"I was elected president only because I'm the opposition leader and it wasn't an endorsement of my leadership abilities," he had said, after the former party president stepped down in 2009. "The moment we find a person, who's capable and more willing, the post will go to that person."

Since then, the two members took on the opposition party's role, and PDP was back in the race, when they won the first constitutional case; that catapulted the opposition leader Tshering Tobgay, who was by then referred to as the OL, to another level.

From the story of his father serving the country as an army officer, and his mother literally building the roads in the country as a road worker, some foreign media persons today call Tshering Tobgay as "a man of the people, who literally built the country, and a man, who has a great sense of duty and groundedness."

That "ordinary card" in fact, is one of his best assets that he used thoroughly during his campaigning to connect to the people.For example, in Dorokha, Samtse, he told the people how happy he feels whenever he comes to there, because it reminds him of his young days, when he used to accompany his father from his village with their cattle.

But Tshering Tobgay is as tech savvy as he is a private person, who keeps insisting not to "make him larger than life," and admits to feel uncomfortable in lavish set ups.Throughout his campaign, Tshering Tobgay ignored the cushioned sofa that was set up for him; instead he dragged a plastic chair, if he had to sit down and check his Iphone. "We aren't in America where we elect a family," he once said.

Once, when he was told that a snake was spotted shedding its skin by a roadside before the election results were out, and if it indicated anything, Tshering Tobgay, with a smug smile, said, "Do you know my lotah?"

The prime minister elect was born in the year of the snake.

Tshering Tobgay is believed to be a determined straightforward person, just like the people of Haa are, he told them in one of his public meetings.

Even after meeting with an accident during the tour of the dragon, a oneday bicycle ride from Bumthang to Thimphu covering 168km, and despite injuries, Tshering Tobgay got back on his bike and completed the race.He later said in his blog – "A biker came barreling down to Trongsa, 68km from the start of the race. He looked left then right at the small group of spectators, ostensibly to see if any of them planned to cross the road. But what the fool didn't see was a bump on the road. That bump threw him off. And he landed squarely on his jaw. The medical team stitched him up and attended to his bruises. And about an hour and a half later the fool rejoined the race. I was that crazy fool."

Its because of his jaw that his friends call him 'massive.'

But the man also never forgets or forgives, and his critics often refer to him as a vindictive person.It was learnt that one of the decisions he has made lately was based on "personal reasons," because of certain differences he have had in the past.Also, his 'No' means 'No' and no matter how persuasive one may be, Tshering Tobgay sticks to his 'No'.

Contributed by Sonam Peldek, KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper, July 2013
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