As Bhutan is gearing up for the third parliamentary election which is to be held this year, we have already started seeing a lot of public debates and discussions on social media about which party should be elected next and why. With about five political parties already registered to join the race this year, it is certain that the road to the parliament will not be as smooth as it is supposed to be. The general excitement and anxiety are already running high among the political parties and their supporters as we start preparing for the Big Day to cast our votes.
There will certainly be clashes of ideas and wisdom among the members of political parties and their supporters as they fight for the opportunity to serve the nation for the next five years. But in a democratic setting, such clashes are welcomed since they create opportunities for ordinary citizens to add their voices to the public debates and engage themselves actively in the political process so that they can make the right decisions when they vote. This is the true spirit of democracy, but this war of ideas and ideology should end with the poll day. Once the election is over, we must be able to leave behind all our political differences and come forward to support the government of the day, regardless of whichever party it is affiliated to.
When we had the first parliamentary election in 2008, we had not expected that the political race would trigger so much conflict and misunderstanding among the general population that stirred up the entire society. Then in 2013, the election campaign became even more vigorous and wild with accusations and allegations being shot at each other from all corners. While such debates are an integral part of a healthy democracy, people should never carry the grievance beyond the Election Day. Right from the 1st general election, it was said that people started taking everything too seriously and personally that they were said to have even stopped talking to each other. This is a sad development that is taking a bad precedence in Bhutan. The political interests of different people should not be the cause for disharmony and unrest in the society that had survived for ages on the basis of mutual understanding and trust.
If we can’t respect the government of the day and continue to dwell on the political differences that had clouded the public campaigns before the election, the nation cannot move forward because no matter how much the government tries to do for the country, we will never be able to appreciate it. This is what we have been seeing in Bhutan since 2008. During DPT’s tenure, there were always some people who could not appreciate the initiatives of the government and the same thing has been happening during PDP’s tenure. The most important thing to remember is that democracy is the best form of government only if you know that no government is perfect in the world. So it would be impossible for any government to reach out to every individual in the country and cater to his or her personal needs. It is mandated to function in the larger interest of the nation. But we always land up expecting our government to do more for us even at the personal level. We should cast our votes in the larger interest of the nation, not with the hope of getting personal favors from the candidate or the government later. I should say that both DPT and PDP governments have done an excellent job during their tenure so far and I have deep respect for everything they have done for the nation despite limited resources in the country.
If the government serves the nation well, I will be happy even if I don’t personally benefit from any of the initiatives undertaken. I would like to always believe that the government of the day deserves high regard and respect from the public, no matter which party forms it. As soon as the election is over, the people and government should come together to work hand-in-hand to take the nation forward. After all, nation-building is a collaborative process.
By Amrith Bdr Subba
The writer is a visually challenged counselor at the Youth Center Division, Department of Youth and Sports under the Ministry of Education.