Bhutanese politics threads a dirty path

If people thought politics has left behind a bad impression in the villages and communities before, this year the situation has only worsened in certain communities. Graciously enough, there are a few villages where political infestation has not stirred any communal disharmony.

From what can be deduced from transpirations happening among people where things are bad, it seems the political bug did not spare households even in the remote communities.

Family members are divided in their votes; there are parents who are pressurizing the children to vote for the party of their choice. There are differences between husbands and wives as well. There are reports of wives being forced to vote for the party that the husbands favor.

The Athang Gup under Wangduephodrang Sangay Khandu said situations are, by far, worse as compared to the 2008 elections.

 

“This politics has created problems between parents and children, husband and wife,” Sangay Khandu said.

“Before, when such problems arose, it was understandable since it was the first time, but now it has gone from bad to worse. By now, people should understand that they won’t benefit in any way, whether the party or the candidates they are supporting wins or loses.”

A 29-year-old housewife from Mongar said that she and her husband have fought over which party they would vote for.

“I wanted to vote for another party, but my husband asked me to vote for the party he supports. When I refused, we just ended up arguing with each other. After the primary round was over, everything was back to normal, but now that general round is here, I am praying that we don’t have to fight over which party to vote again,” she said.

There are stray incidents where political rift caused relatives to go into fist fights, and some of them are still not on a talking term even today.

However, in some gewogs, the situation is visibly calm on the surface, although observers say it might change as the election events pick up heat, and campaigning becomes doubly fierce among party entities.

There are villagers in some gewogs that are not influenced by the political division and polarization. One such gewog is Barshong under Tsirang, and as of now, the villagers there have not felt the political heat.

“My gewog is one of the remotest in Tsirang, and people are not well educated and so are least bothered about politics,” said Gup Santa Lal Powdyel.

Sharing a similar view is the Bartsham Gup Sonam Dorji from Trashigang. He said his gewog too, has no problems as of now.

Away from the capital city and what is only televised or printed in news, the frequency of political eyesore is regularly increasing and its influence reaches the remote communities as well.

One of the Gups in the east, on seeking anonymity said that this time round, not only has politics upped the level of drama unfolding among the parties, the candidates, and the presidents, it has also created problems among common people on a bigger scale.

Before the problems were among people, but now it is within the candidates and the parties. Voter fatigue is setting in with the allegations and accusations that are constantly thrown to defame parties. The people also added the emotional tensions are undesirably and annoyingly increasing among the party workers, supporters, and the innocent bystanders, the villagers.

The vigorous campaign by politicians are regularly making news headlines, be it in the common forums and debates or through official complaints lodged with the election body, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB).

On social media sites like, Facebook and Twitter, snarky remarks and sarcastic comments are updated around the clock directed at endorsing the parties and candidates or to tear them down.

A civil servant, who did not wish to be named, said that many people have the feeling that there is the east and west divide happening in politics, and this he said could lead in a huge rift being created among the people.

The concerns over regionalism come due to results of the primary election where voters in western Bhutan voted in favor of PDP, while DPT secured the maximum votes from the east.

With the common forums going on across the country, villagers are busy thinking and talking politics, and consequentially making decisions that affect everyone collectively.

Netizens or the online communities of people active on social media sites and discussing as to what extent the politics in Bhutan could drive the nation towards the path of progress or its downfall.

Chencho Dema / Thimphu

 

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