Clash of Titans in heated Kanglung_Samkhar_Udzorong debate

In the run-up to the General Election, the political landscape is ablaze with contrasting predictions and pledges from the two parties, the Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

BTP President Pema Chewang started the debate, highlighting the contrast in seat distribution between the Primary Election, where PDP secured 39 seats and BTP secured 4 seats.

BTP President said, “Looking ahead to the general election, our projection aims for victory in 32 seats. Following our success in the primary stage, we received numerous calls of support from DPT, DNT, DTT, and their respective supporters. This reassures us that we are well-positioned for success in the upcoming general election. Having formed the party just over a year ago, we attribute our growing support to the presence of experienced and humble candidates.”

Among their key pledges are promises to provide public support, allocate Nu 3,000 monthly for the elderly and the disabled, create job opportunities for graduates, and offer low-interest loans.

However, PDP’s Norbu Wangchuk dismissed BTP’s optimism as mere daydreaming, emphasizing the need for a practical approach.

“Despite PDP securing 39 seats, and BTP winning only 4 and projecting victory in the General Election seems bit too ambitious. The President told people that he will be the Prime Minister in 20 days and is already preparing a silk gho. Winning requires strategic calculation; we aim for 24 seats, and even losing 15 from our 39 would still lead to success. Can you share what you dreamt of?”

Pema Chewang shared, “I dreamt of riding an elephant, excelling in archery, and ascending hills.”

“The dynamics of seats in the Primary Election and General Election differ. Our calculations were made before entering politics, demonstrating our ability to strategize. We’re not just an opposition; we aim to form the ruling government. I participated to win. Let’s observe the results on January 9, 2024,” he added.

Norbu Wangchuk commented, “We had 300,000 voters during PE, expecting a similar turnout during General Election unless outsiders come into play.”

Pema Chewang responded, “My response is simple, let’s patiently await the outcome on January 9, 2024.”

As the verbal sparring continues, both parties outline their respective pledges.

PDP commits to infrastructural development, including blacktopping roads and initiating hydropower projects, while BTP questions the feasibility of these promises and challenges PDP’s track record.

The BTP President shared that Launching a party without a budget is challenging. As newcomers, they lack supporters, making it difficult to establish offices and compensate employees.

“One of our employees hasn’t received payment for approximately 2 months; I suggested treating it as a debt. Budget constraints pose significant challenges for us,” he added.

The BTP President queried PDP, stating, “The people of Udzorong know if promises can be fulfilled. PDP has been both in Opposition and in power. PDP closed the Dzigo exit and entry gate in the east, so how can we expect to attract 50,000 tourists? There’s talk about roof paint for individuals in Udzorong and modifying the Lhakhang. Please provide clarification.”

Norbu Wangchuk responded, “There’s no doubt about our ability to deliver. We have a track record of fulfilling commitments in the past. Please refrain from spreading misinformation about actions we never took. Stop listening to rumors.”

The candidates also engage in a debate over educational initiatives, fallow land utilization, and the development of the eastern region.

PDP reiterated on its past accomplishments, citing road connectivity, airport construction, and tourism incentives, while BTP raised concerns about halted projects and vowed to address the economic crisis.

The moderator questioned PDP candidate, “There’s no clear evidence of shortcomings in the eastern part. From what I’ve observed, progress has been made. However, no hydro projects have begun, and the education town initiatives haven’t taken off, yet PDP plans to restart everything?”

“Development takes time. The government has initiated road connectivity, electrification, and a telecom network in the eastern part. We built the Yonphula airport and waived the SDF for tourists, benefiting the tourism sector,” he responded.

Pema Chewang highlighted issues halted during the PDP’s five-year tenure, like halting Dewathang-Nganglam road construction, and the incomplete Kholongchu hydro project. The Trashigang Zorig chusum, functioning for a year, was abruptly stopped.

Norbu Wangchuk responded, “There were non-negotiable situations for the government, which will be understood once you’re in the PM’s position.”

BTP President Pema Chewang concluded by stating that they have seasoned candidates representing different constituencies. The candidates rule the government, not the party.

PDP candidate Norbu Wangchuk concluded that 2018 election loss was due to unconfirmed and malicious rumors. He said the people know his dedication during his ministerial tenure.

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