l Usha Drukpa, Thimphu
While different political parties have begun to prepare for the 2018 elections, the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is still working to achieve the government’s mandate, which are also aspirations of the people and important for the country. Moreover, the PDP is neither nervous about 2018 nor worried of the emergence of new political parties.
Replying to a question during Meet the Press on August 4, 2017, Lyonpo Dorji Choden, Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS), said that the party have no reasons to be nervous. Instead, the minister said that formation of political parties and campaigning are part and parcel of the democratic process. “Our mandate is to accomplish the vision of the 11th Five Year Plan, which is the aspiration of the people. It is about national interest and we still have one more year”, she said, adding that for the government, achievement of the 11th FYP and beyond, “is their target and priority.”
However she said, one year is a long way to go. “New political parties coming in do not disturb us,” she added.
The Minister of Education (MoE), Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said, that the government has been campaigning for the last four years. “There is still one more year,” he said, adding that the best campaign material is to serve the country, which the government has done.
Reiterating the importance of the 11th FYP and successful accomplishment, Lyonpo said that at the end of the term, the outcome and targets, which have been achieved, will be provided to the people. “People will judge us. A very strong economy and the 12th plan, reflecting the needs and aspiration of the people will be presented to the people,” Lyonpo said.
PDP’s General Secretary, Sonam Jatsho, also said there is still more than a year to serve. “And as a responsible government and a responsible party, we don’t want to get distracted at all. We want to make sure that every day of the term is properly utilized for service to the Tsa-Wa-Sum. We want to make the best use of them,” he said. Underlining the importance of time and responsibilities, he said serving the Tsa-Wa-Sum as a government is very important.
He also said that there is sufficient time to campaign. “If we have performed well and met all needs of the people, I do not think that there is a need to campaign much,” he said, adding that people have been watching the government’s performance, which will translate into where people vote.
Speaking to The Journalist, a consultant who has been following political developments said the government (PDP) has several advantages compared to others. “PDP does not need to look for candidates. As the government, people know about the party,” he said, adding that the challenges other parties face is getting 47 candidates and establishing themselves. “It is an irony that some parties are not yet known by the people,” he said. Nonetheless, he said that he does not buy the statement that PDP has not started campaigning. “They have support and from different people, we are hearing that the PDP is getting stronger with more membership. How will this happen if no one is campaigning?” he questioned.
A senior media personnel applauded what the PDP representatives have said. “It is true. At the end of the government’s tenure, what the government has done and failed will both be known by the people. The education minister is right. What greater or stronger campaign tools would one need than showing what the government has done,” he questioned.
He also added that other parties have to spread the word that “they are there and ready.” “Several political parties, including the opposition have said the same, because of different reasons. New parties need to tell people that they are there. And the opposition need to stay strong,” he noted. However, he said that the “greatest challenge” for other parties is leadership. “Apart from Dasho Neten of Bhutan Kyenyam Party (BKP), other parties only have interim presidents and founders. If parties have leaders that can be accepted by all, they will definitely announce it,” he said, adding that the current scenario, where parties are saying that in “due course of time,” their leaders will be announced is not “palatable.”