Getting the political parties to come out of their closets was hard enough, now the candidates are flying below the radar so that there is a ‘safe’ time for them to appear publicly
The political scene faces a dearth of potential candidates and reasons are many, but no one would have guessed it to be a ‘tit for tat’ situation.
The lead up to the next election is set given the rise of two new parties this year and a probable fifth one rumored to make its debut soon. But where are the candidates?
Political pundits say the one thing that has not seen any growth so far is the enabling environment for the aspiring political candidates.
It is the fear of being perceived as a political opponent by the ruling government that has made them hide from the public eyes, say the few that The Bhutanese talked to. However at the same time, it is also to some extent a party’s willingness to disclose as well, which they feel is too soon to be done owing to its budding stage.
On the sidelines there is also the fact that the private sector is very much dependent on the Government. Aspiring candidates are afraid of coming out in the public which might lead to offending the very source of their income.
“Many of us have to rely on the Government for the sustenance so we cannot openly come out and declare our candidacy,” said a private employee aspiring to join politics.
The spokesperson of the Druk Mitser Tshogpa (DMT), said that the present environment of parties not being able to disclose their candidates is due to three factors. The first include those already in the party functioning as founding members.
“I am not too keen to run as a candidate unless necessary and there are other members who feel the same,” he said.
Further disclosing the candidates would mean losing out, said the spokesperson adding, “At the moment we have more to lose than to gain.”
Secondly, there are those candidates who still haven’t decided. These are the people who cannot disclose themselves till they can be fully committed. And finally, the potential candidates who are still sitting on the fence are in service.
Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa spokesperson, Dr. Tandin Dorji said, “People do not want to be seen challenging the the ruling government so they feel uneasy” he said.
The DNT spokesperson, said the current environment is such that politics is not looked-at as favorable and the general view is not that good, thus the reluctance.
The current pool of candidate is from the private sector and those from the government and corporate sector have no time to learn about the party ideologies, visions and others so they can make their choices.
“There is also insecurity among people so they would want to tag with the winning horse and thus they are waiting to get an offer,” said a source.
However, the Opposition Leader (OL), Tshering Tobgay said there is still more than one whole year till the elections and therefore there’s plenty of time to finalize and announce candidates.
“We have already talked to many potential candidates. Some have confirmed that they will run; and some feel that they need more time to consider their options and to consult family and friends. Either way, we respect the privacy of our candidates and will announce them as and when they are ready to start working publicly,” he said.
Some of the people the party have spoken to are civil servants and corporate employees. “Obviously, they wouldn’t want their interactions with us to be made public till they resign from their current jobs,” the OL said.
For those in the private sector, he said, “I don’t think that they would be victimized in any way for publicly declaring their interests to take up active politics”.