Bhutan held its primary elections on September 15, 2018, sending two out of four political parties to lock their horns to elect new government scheduled for October 18, 2018.
The result of the primary election came as a shock to the ruling party People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Although, the PDP secured the majority votes from the rural population cast through EVM; the votes cast by the civil servants and urban population through postal ballot punished the party badly.
People flooded the social media with a mixed opinion for the defeat. Ignoring civil servants, killing freedom of the Press, turning deaf ears towards corruption, raising national debts to new heights, ignoring people’s concerns, deceiving unemployed youths in the name of overseas jobs, and leaning completely towards India regarding regional relationships are some of the reasons for the defeat that people pointed out on the social media.
Former prime minister, Tshering Tobgay, through his Facebook page accepted the people’s choice and congratulated the two parties for making to the final round of the election.
Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) and Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) are the two parties locking the horns.
DNT, under the leadership of Dr. Lotay Tshering, a noted urologist by profession is apparently touching the sentiments of the people with the slogan- “Alone, we can do so little. Together, we can do so much- Narrowing the Gap.” DNT has become the largest party by bringing in 92,722 voters out of 438,663 total qualified voters.
Dr. Tshering made his thanking note public through his official Facebook page – “Join us on the journey that will be the beginning of the new times, where poor are uplifted, health services reach the people and communities reunited irrespective of political affiliations. We will be a country, progressing with a strong democracy, under the noble guidance of His Majesty the King.”
This party is fielding the most inclusive and diverse candidates. DNT is merited most by the people for inclusion and vision for narrowing the gap between the poor and the rich. This party is fresh to be tasted or tested by the people in terms of governing the nation.
DPT, under the leadership of Pema Gyamtsho, a former Minister of Agriculture and Forest is fielding candidates from different walks of life. The party has secured 90,020 votes out of the total. Party says – it has gained experience in the past to run the government and all its candidates are equally capable of handling any ministry in the government. DPT is the party that won the first general election held in Bhutan on March 24, 2008. The party secured 45 of the 47 seats to the National Assembly. But, the party was heavily defeated in 2013 and remained as the opposition party with 15 members. Neighboring India considers this party as the pro-China party.
Pema Gyamtsho disclosed the hardships the party had to undergo in the recent years through a message to the people saying, “we have weathered the storms, negotiated the waves and overcame numerous hurdles to reach where we have. We have not abandoned our ship in the face of typhoons and cyclones but faced them with courage, trust, and faith. We have opted for the cool breeze of the ocean to guide our sails in the direction of peace, unity, and harmony.”
DPT leaders are blamed for deceiving people during their first term; most of the ministers blamed for purchasing plots under the names of their relatives in the prime areas of the capital (Education City), And, a minister was found involved in the corruption scandal while the party was in the power. Thus, this party has a lot many vessels to clean.
Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party: The party headed by Neten Zangmo failed to list her party for the general election. Zangmo is one of the recipients of the red scarf and Druk Thuksey award from the King, the woman who gathered applauds from the people while working as first Chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and is named ‘the most important woman in the country’ by Bunty Avieson an Australian feature writer.
Many people are of the opinion that Zangmo is a right person in a wrong party. Her everyday sayings, “My principles are more important to me than my life, and, “You must be able to stand with your head straight on your shoulder and look anybody in the eyes” – the sayings that rest in the minds of the people. Her party workers solaced the loss with their limited time and lack of resources to educate people about the party’s mission and vision. Nevertheless, the road ahead for this party is evident and clean. Time will only bring what the vision of the party truly is if they remain firm to their principle.
Challenges to both the parties:
Corruption has become a cancer of the growing political system in Bhutan. Nepotism and favoritism guard the doors of every department. Roots of corruption are perceptible but hard to track down. Talks about ‘Big Fish and Small Fish’ can be heard in the alleys of Thimphu around the clock. An alarming rise in the national debt is an artificially created pond where so-called Big and Small fishes have found waters to swim and hide their heads! Sadly, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) hasn’t done its job as expected due to this nexus between power, positions, and personal connections.
According to the report of the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) the external debts to the nation as of March 2018 is USD 2.67B.
Thus, reducing national debts, creating avenues for the thousands of unemployed youths, respect for the freedom of the press, reducing the gap between the rich and the poor are some iron chips to bite!
The Article 2 (Clauses 13.a, 13.b and 13.c) of the constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan is often linked to the root cause of the corruption in the country. The constitution has guided two elected governments. Yet, the annuities, taxation, and the financial sources related to the Royal Family members and businesses run under the Royal Family’s affiliation(s) could not become a bill to discuss in the Parliament even in a decade. None of the governments could exhibit the courage to bring the matter as a bill in the parliament to discuss and enact into a law that could have changed the fate of the nation for the hapless citizens. Unless this issue enters the parliament as a bill, corruption keeps spreading its roots deeper and wider making this democracy a ‘staged one’ for the whole world to see.
Cranes and the Flowers- see at the Horse and not repeat the same but make a real difference.