Of 13 candidates two have reached their age, four are going on their own and seven had been identified for replacement due to performance
The Prime Minister Lyonchhen Dasho Tshering Tobgay, who is also the President of PDP, clarified that PDP would be replacing a total of 13 candidates.
Of this the former Education Minister and MP from Dewathang-Gomdar Mingbo Dukpa and the Speaker Jigme Zangpo from Monggar constituencies have crossed their age limit to contest in 2018.
Four have come forward voluntarily to step down. One is Kezang. D Wangmo from Dogar-Shabha in Paro. She is going for further studies to Australia. Another is Rinzin Dorji the former Foreign Minister and MP from Shompangkha in Sarpang who does not want to contest for personal reasons.
The third who stepped down is Pelzang Wangchuk from Jomostangkha-Martshala in Samdrupjongkhar. His reason is that he plans to build a house and retire in his Dzongkhag.
The Fourth to step down is Dophu Dukpa from the Kabji-Talo constituency. He, in a facebook post conveyed his decision not to re-contest but he said that he would be with the party. He is expected to introduce the new candidate the former Foreign and Home Secretary Tshering Dorji to his constituency.
The seven who were identified for replacement and have accepted this decision from the party are Ritu Raj Chhetri from Tashichhoeling, Tek Bahadhur Subba from Dopuchen-Tading and Madan Kumar Chhetri from Ugyentse-Yoseltse all in Samtse.
The other two are Karma Dorji from Drujyegang-Tseza and Labour Minister Ngeema Sangay Tshempo from Lhamoizingkha-Tashiding, both in Dagana.
Gopal Gurung from Gelephu in Sarpang and Tsewang Jurmey from Chumig-Ura in Bumthang are also being replaced.
Lyonchhen said that apart from the two who crossed the age criteria and the four who are voluntarily stepping down he talked with each of the seven MPs and informed them of the party’s decision to replace them.
“When I say party’s decision we have a small committee of our party members looking at the viability of all candidates and in finalizing candidates. For existing MPs, we have reported to the Executive Committee and in fact the executive committee has endorsed the committee’s recommendation to replace some of these candidates,” said Lyonchhen.
The PM said that the question may be why, and the answer is that there is confusion among the grassroots on who is going to be a candidate for 2018.
He outlined the three grounds on the basis of which the replacements were done.
“One is, have you worked hard at your constituency and taken care of your constituents. Two have you worked in the Parliament, worked hard in committees and have you represented your constituency well. Number three have you supported the party,” said Lyonchhen.
“So, in some cases, I have to say unfortunately they have not been to their constituencies as much as they should be going, and we have received a lot of complaints. Some of them have not participated meaningfully in the Parliament, and they have not take part in committee works and in the party some of them have been very reluctant to work and in fact some of them have voted against the party also, though, if it is not on important issues- it does not matter,” explained Lyonchhen.
The PM outlined that it is not enough to just be winnable but that the people must have somebody that they are comfortable with.
Lyonchhen said that three years ago he announced these criteria to all the candidates and the ministers and that no MPs are guaranteed their tickets, no ministers are guaranteed tickets and no MPs or ministers are guaranteed portfolios in the event that they win.
“Also three years ago I informed all MPs that we have three years, we are incumbent, we are the ruling party. You go to your constituency at government expense and you are required to go, participate in the debates in parliament, represent your people well,” said the PM.
He said that this was again repeated two years again.
“At that time I cautioned everybody including our ministers. Remember you get positive feedback and nothing else. Nobody gives you negative feedback as nobody wants to upset an incumbent and nobody wants to be the harbinger of bad news. Everybody says you are strong and going to win. And I say be careful and you can easily believe that and this will be your undoing. You have to assume that you are weak and then work very hard accordingly,” said Lyonchhen.
He said that after that he personally spoke to every candidate who were perceived to be weak and cautioned them that this is the situation and they are not doing certain things right.
“So that was two years ago. Then last year at the general convention I mentioned it again that no tickets are guaranteed. I said it three and two years ago and also at the General Convention that the party belongs to the people and it does not belong to me nor does it belong to any of the MPs, and therefore we cannot use the tickets as a matter of right for the MPs or me or to dish out to people who may be in any way associated to the party. We must build a party that is good for the country and can serve the peoples aspirations and that can strengthen democracy. And therefore we can’t take any ticket for granted. That was last November,” said Lyonchhen.
Lyonchhen said that of the seven most of them agree and only one or two have disagreements. He said that he can understand and appreciate that especially if they think that they are strong, but they have also heard in the villages that people want the PDP party but that there is a need to change the MP.
“They know that even if they hang on with the PDP party they have a good chance so this is why one or two maybe very upset. I can understand that everybody will be disappointed and I can empathize with that, and they have no doubt about it,” said Lyonchhen.
“But in the party we have had a series of cautions, meetings and warnings and at the end if for whatever reason you are not electable and people don’t want you then our responsibility in the party leadership is to acknowledge that and work on that. Something else I have told all MPs is that if you are winnable, the party would be crazy to change you,” added the PM.
Lyonchhen said if the candidate is winnable and is of use to the country and people the party would be crazy to change the candidate because the party would breed ill will and who would want to breed ill will. He said, “When you are winnable why replace you with anybody else because that does not make sense. It is a very difficult and very sensitive decision but it has to be done, and I have met with each of them and I have personally informed them.”
He said that most of them have taken it very positively and will continue to work with the party. He said though one or two of them have taken it extremely badly and they have been going around and expressing their disappointment, it is is also understandable and he accepts that.
“However, no existing MP or rather no party member can undermine the party. Now any party member can be upset with the party and can complain and this is all part of being human, but if that leads to compromising the integrity of the party, compromising the credibility of the party, and compromising the reputation of the party- then we will have to consider removing that party member from the party, because you can’t be member of the party and undermine the party’s prospects and so this is something that we will look at and will take very seriously,” added the PM.
“An existing MP who is being replaced is expressing unhappiness is understandable but if anybody’s actions go beyond just expressing unhappiness and really undermines the credibility and integrity of the party then we may consider removing them from party. If we remove them from the party, then they cannot be a MP or a minister. As far as announcements go a few have been causing a lot of disturbance at the grassroots and rather then just breed and cultivate speculation we want to put the matter at a close as we owe it to the people,” said Lyonchhen.
If a MP is removed by the party before he completes his term, then he loses his seat and long with that his benefits.