More than ever before, elections have become the talk of the town. With endless debates in office and discussion in clubs and gatherings, development agenda has slid down the ladder. It is either media making the elections bigger, Facebook and Twitter making it popular or anonymous blogging creating space to speak freely. Everything seems to be about elections – directly or indirectly.
But will there be any change in post-election Bhutan as we expect? How far the existing parties fared and how will the new ones do? If things don’t change, why do we need political parties campaigning and promising assurances every five years?
Democratic culture inherits the quintessence of competitive service delivery. We accepted democracy because we expected faster change. No one can measure whether expectation of the Bhutanese populace is rising faster or parties working slower. We have observed mismatch between expectation and deliveries in the last five years.
Parties have began their election campaigns unofficially. Assurances are already afloat with what they want to do in the next five years. The Opposition is building its team across the districts by revamping its closed and dysfunctional offices. The question is whether the party is economically capable of sustaining those offices and for how long?
Prime Minister JYT who spent a lot of time overseas, being a GNH hero during this first term has now come back to the villages. In disguise to oversee the development projects, conduct review on how districts are doing, meeting people to see if they are happy with development activities and give instructions to the government agencies and departments to carry out duties effectively, PM JYT has designed a clever mission to collect votes.
There are no legal grounds to object his district tours. Being head of the government, he has the right and the obligation to visit and monitor activities. A Prime Minister who spent weeks abroad when the country was badly hit by natural calamities and other emergencies cannot find any good reasons to travel to the districts at this time of the year other than to see development activities.
Lets get back to his position around a year-and-half ago. He opposed the visit of Opposition Leader to districts and alleged Tshering Tobgay of carrying out silent political campaigns. Opposition has an obligation to balance the government and thus, acquires rights to travel to the districts just like the PM.
Recently PM has been literarily living in our villages. It is neither the time to review five-year plans nor the five-year tenure of the first elected government. It is certainly an effort to influence the ground situation. Other ministers and DPT MPs also have become active.
On the other side, the newly established parties are working lazily. The preparations are in mess. Though the constitution prohibits any political campaign before election dates are announced, there is no clear definition about what a political campaign is. It is not a campaign but new parties are reaching out to its cadres and supporters in the districts and villages trying to chart out its support base, train its campaign guns and feeling the sentiments of the people. If PM and the Opposition have the right to interact with people on development activities, so do the other parties who are, in principle, equally concerned about the country and its people.
The hotels and luxury sofas in Thimphu cannot formulate strategies and agenda for poor villagers, the voters. They must talk to the people through their local representatives to learn what common mass is looking for.
The new parties must tell the people the truth about the corrupt guns of the ruling party. They are liable for any blunder committed. If they failed to appropriately disseminate information of what went wrong in the last five years, why public expectation were not met – the ruling party did not make adequate effort to build a stronger foundation for democracy, open society and free expression.
That’s not the end. The new players must demonstrate leadership capabilities, ensure delivery of the promises and make people believe what they say.
Best of luck.
This story by Sonam Dorji “Chagey” using our anonymous system.
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