Dissatisfied with the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) serving a warning to the DPT’s Jomotshangkha–Martshala candidate for supposedly bribing voters during the recent elections, a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) coordinator of Serthi and Lauri gewog said they want to take the matter further to its logical conclusion.
A ‘last warning’ is not tantamount to the violation of Electoral Laws by the former DPT Jomotshangkha–Martshala MP Norbu Wangzom, who is also currently the party candidate for 2013 elections, said the PDP coordinator Ten Dorji.
This is a follow-up to the written complaint lodged on May 11 to the Jomotshangkha-Martshala returning officer (RO), in which the PDP coordinator Ten Dorji accused that the DPT candidate of the constituency had bribed some voters by distributing free clothes.
This time, he said, they will furnish all evidences required to prove that DPT has been genuinely involved in election wrongdoings.
“We have pictures, and other digital materials of the party’s representatives giving clothes to five households,” he said, adding that the clothes were freely distributed to voters of Barkalangnang and Monmola village under the gewog.
In a telephone interview with this paper, Ten Dorji said, “We have recorded and taken pictures in the cell phones, a confirmation that bribery has been done.” He added that the DPT candidate brought two sacks of clothes for free distribution.
He said that the DPT MP getting only a simple last warning from authorities was not enough. Given the seriousness of the case, it deserved more serious action, said the PDP coordinator. He said the light penalization is not in keeping with laws, especially when the DPT MP has violated the Electoral Laws. He added that even the recipients of the clothes have confirmed that they received the bribes from the DPT Tshogpas. “What more evidence is needed,” said Ten Dorji.
He also added that such light warnings served by the ECB will not be a deterrent for parties to break the Electoral Laws.
“This is a serious political corruption,” he said. He also said someone who has violated a law is left to go scot-free with small warnings, and this will only trigger and encourage others to engage in similar activities. He said Electoral Law is supreme and must be respected at all times.
Norbu Wangzom, however, has refuted such allegations. She claimed that the clothes were sent by the civil servants in Thimphu. The PDP coordinator, on the contrary, asked why it has been distributed selectively to voters of Serthi gewog only. “Most farmers in other gewogs are also poor and in need of such favors,” he said.
Further, Ten Dorji said if it was not to gain political advantage illegally, she could have distributed the clothes through gewog authorities. “That way, beneficiary could be decided on impartial basis rather than on party alignment,” he added.
“What is it, if not corruption?” he asked.
According to him, the DPT candidate’s claims that it was done in ignorance, not being aware that it might be in conflict of interest cannot be believed, as she should be well-versed with all laws as an MP who has served five-year tenure in the Parliament, during which time, the Constitution was adopted, Anti-Corruption and several other acts and rules were tabled in Parliament.
Another PDP Tshogpa, Gom Tshering said, he is also aware of such bribery accusations on DPT. He said the proof of the allegations is recorded in his mobile phone since it is serious violation of the Electoral Laws. He didn’t rule out the fact, that beside this particular case, DPT was also involved in different bribery cases. “I kept the record of what I’ve seen,” said Gom Tshering.
According to the letter duly signed by the voters (recipient of clothes), Norbu Wangzom has given six children’s shirts, one half kira, two tegos, and a pair of jeans to the voters.
Meanwhile, the DPT Jomotshangkha-Martshala constituency candidate Norbu Wangzom said that the matter was solved and she has nothing new to comment on the matter.
“The clothes distributed are all old clothes,” she added.
The ECB’s legal officer Cheki Drakpa said as of now they don’t have the authority to comment over the matter.