Today the Bhutanese Media confirmed that the highest echelon of Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa Political Party ( DNT ) are now part of People’s Democratic Party ( PDP ). The highest echelon includes the President, the Vice President, a prominent original promoter of DNT and another DNT winner. And four other DNT candidates are piggybacked to the four sought after Candidates to strengthen DNT’s hand within the Party Alliance with PDP.
Impact of the Party Alliance.
1) This reduces the original DNT to the same status as Druk Chirwang Tshogpa ( DCT ) Political Party or even worse because without its high command DNT is reduced into a nonexistent Entity. The face of the Party has been taken away and the major part of the 17.5% primary votes goes with the Candidates who have switched over.
2) This merger of 8 DNT Candidates with the PDP cannot be termed as Party Hopping or Opportunistic leap of registered Party members from one Political Party to another as permitted under Election Laws. The Election Law refers specifically to members of a registered Political Party. It does not refer to Constituency Candidates of a Political Party who are nominated, accepted and registered with the Election Commission of Bhutan ( ECB ) as Party Candidates.
3) The complete switching over of Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s high command along with 5 other Candidates to the People’s Democratic Party definitely constitutes the formation of Political Parties Alliance. It is way beyond what the Election Law states i.e. resigning of registered members from one Political Party to join another Political Party and contest the General Elections.
4) The formation of Political Party Alliance to contest the General Election poses a historic challenge to the Election Commission of Bhutan, the Institution of Judiciary in Bhutan and the Institution of Bhutanese Monarchy. As independent as the Election Commission of Bhutan is supposed to be, yet, it alone may not be able to give the approval or disapproval stamp to this emergence of Political Parties Alliance.
5) When a Political Party receives around 18% of votes in the Primary Election, it represents nearly one-fifth of the Bhutanese population. How do we throttle the voice of 1/5th of the Nation? This is something more Bhutanese should have dwelt upon prior to the adoption of the Constitution.
6) At the time of drafting the Constitution of Bhutan, I did point out in writing this dilemma if only 2 Political Parties are permitted to contest in the General Election. And now this dilemma is haunting Bhutan immediately after the 1st Primary Election held in the nation. In the year 2007 itself, I felt that the nation had a moral, social and political obligation to take into account any Political Party that receives over 15% of votes in the Primary Election and that was why I had appealed to the Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee that more than two Political Parties need to be considered for General Election. However, national wisdom stuck to 2 Political Parties and the Draft Constitution has been signed into Mother of Law by the first Parliament. And I don’t think it leaves any room for Political Alliance under whatever Shade and Colour. And if Election Commission chooses to interpret Election Law to suit political convenience than I think it would be less painful for the nation to terminate the tenure of Election Commissioners then have the process of Democracy murdered.
7) As of this date, it would be unconstitutional for 3 Political Parties to participate in the present General Election. The Political Alliance of Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa and People’s Democratic Party under the banner of People’s Democratic Party is unconstitutional. The Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa has already publicly declared that their candidates even after joining another Political Party are expected to, “take DNT’s principles and concerns forward.”
8) It is too late this time but this coming 2nd Parliament must amend the Constitution.
a) Make provision for a 3rd Political Party to contest General Election. The result of the 1st Primary Election is sufficiently evident enough to substantiate the need for a 3rd Political Party in the General Election. It will also take care of domination of Bhutanese political scene by just one national Party.
b) Otherwise do away with the nomination process of Political Party Candidates for the Primary Round of Election. Keep the Primary Election purely between POLITICAL PARTIES as it was meant to be and not between Political Party Constituency Candidates as has been encouraged by Election Commission.
9) The Election Commission of Bhutan should never have over stepped its mandate. Why were the Political Parties required to identify and nominate 47 Candidates for 47 Constituencies when Primary Election was primarily for selection of two Political Parties to contest in the General Election from amongst numerous Political Parties? Even the BBS debate forum sponsored by ECB had pitched constituency candidates against each other. For Primary Election, one would have thought that 3 public debates would have been more than adequate: 1) Between Presidents of Political Parties, 2) Between Vice Presidents of Political Parties and 3) Between General Secretaries of Political Parties.
10) Things misfire and bring embarrassment to all because politics of convenience has been given a free rein. Is it now possible to clear this political mess and recoup democratic dignity? I think Bhutan and Bhutanese and our relevant authorities must think deeply.
11) Whatever we decide, please do not lay grounds for distrusts, shameful partiality and national discord. The people who make rules cannot keep bending the same continuously without harming the unity and stability of the Nation. It is time that we share the onus of responsible interpretation of Election Laws that ensures transparency into the process of Democracy. Democratic Reforms were introduced to avoid any future Public Discontent as so demonstrated in late 1980s in the Southern Region of the Nation. It is necessary now to look beyond the short-term political gain for any political faction. Bhutan and Bhutanese must avoid sowing seeds of public disillusionment that in the long run could adversely affect the social and political thought process of the populace.
I personally do not think that the ongoing Political Alliance would actually make a big difference in the outcome of the General Election. First PDP may suffer similar backlash as Druk Phuensum Tshogpa ( DPT ) suffered in Punakha and Haa for booting out old Candidates. And secondly the voters of DNT may have sincerely voted for New Times New Ideas and not Old Wine in Old Casket. If this presumption is true then voters especially those postal voters and other educated voters would have no further reasons to vote for the same Candidates. I also do not think PDP would have wanted as many as 8 DNT Candidates but maybe that was the only way to strike an Alliance deal with DNT. It would not have been possible especially for someone like Aum Dorji Choden the President of DNT to serve under a banner of another Political Party without substantial number of her own Party Candidates joining her. It would have been like a mother abandoning her infant baby to be in stride with her new Lover.