The public debates for Tsirang dzongkhag’s Kilkhorthang-Mendrelgang picked up in intensity immediately past the regular routine of familiarizing parties, advocating pledges from respective party manifestos during the question and hour session.
Starting with candidates directing questions at each other the audience joined in during the question hour to warm up the session.
The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) candidate Yangku Tshering Sherpa questioned PDP’s Yogesh Tamang on the party’s World Trade Organization (WTO) plans for Bhutan which he said is not appropriate for the country.
In response the PDP candidate said “We didn’t say we will get into WTO but we will start with reviewing works and if in case we get into it, we will be supporting it.”
The PDP candidate in his turn to question asked his opponent on the Gyelposhing corruption case where the former speaker and ministers were involved. Yogesh Tamang asked when leaders are involved in corruption, how can it be stopped to strengthen the democratic process.
Yangku Tshering Sherpa said to clarify people who have misconceptions on the case “we are never into corruption as it is our ideology.” He said what people should think over is why such a case is brought up which is a decade old case.
During the Q and A session opened to the floor the DPT candidate was asked to clarify how poverty rate is calculated. He responded by explaining that if the entitlement or the earning of a person is less than Nu 1,700 per month he/she is considered a person in poverty.
However he also clarified that poverty doesn’t mean people not having enough money or no money; other areas like education could also considered. “The poverty rate which was 23% is brought down to 12% and we plan to bring it down to 5% if we come to power,” he said.
The PDP candidate was asked to answer how his party would address corruption and Rupee crisis.
Yogesh Tamang said “Firstly by making ACC capable and by giving more of trainings which we think can address corruption.”
“In order to address rupee crisis, we will start over again with Bhutan lottery which we think will certainly solve the issue,” he said.
Most of the questions from the floor were directed to the PDP candidate made about helicopters, power-tillers, taxes, increasing salary of armed forces and providing Bolero pick-up trucks to gewogs.
On the question on vehicles Yogesh Tamang clarified “It’s not specifically Bolero but Service Utility Van (SUV).”
On PDP’s promise to increase the salary of armed forces, which is mentioned as the prerogative of His Majesty in the constitution of Bhutan, Yogesh Tamang explained armed forces are the most hardworking citizens serving the and they undergo many challenges.
“Looking at this after consultations we will be putting up the issue to His Majesty,” he said.
A question to the DPT was about the roads which the DPT government constructed only to be left without any vehicles as import ban is in place.
To this, Yangku Tshering Sherpa said, number of vehicles before 2008 and current number is almost the same and only around 4000 numbers make up in differences.
“Anyhow, if we are mandated and come to power that issue will also be looked after,” he said.
Yangku Tshering Sherpa in his opening statements during the debate spoke about the importance of Gross National Happiness, equity and justice and self reliance while candidate Yogesh Tamang talked about PDP’s party philosophy of Wangtse Chhirpel.
DPT’ Yangku Tshering Sherpa said self reliance is targeted to be achieved by 2020 while PDP’s Yogesh Tamang talked about ‘power to the people’ which he said is in the hands of a select few.