People listening from outside a full hall in Tsirang

DNT campaign in the south clarifies against criticism of their pledges

The Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) President, Lotay Tshering, met with the people of Zhemgang on 7 October. After which the team then travelled to Gelephu, Sarpang for a meeting with the people on 8 October. On 9 October, he met with the people of Melemthang, Damphu, Tsirang where he explained the DNT manifesto and highlighted the party pledges to the voters.

He said DNT has studied the issues faced by the people in the last five years and came up with the party manifesto. He shared with the people that DNT was surprised at its first place result in the primary round.

“We got the support and stood first in primary round, just because of our manifesto and because people know how it will help in bridging the gap between the rich and the poor, especially the pledge on health services,” he said.

He said he is confident that people will pick the best party in the general round. “DNT and DPT supporters voted for us in primary round, and I hope they would do the same in general round. It is now in the hands of PDP and BKP supporters to decide and choose the best to form the government.”

He pointed out that the 2018 election is the most significant election, as it will keep democracy going strong. He said that one should learn from the southern region in giving an equal chance to all parties, every election.

“In 2008 they went for DPT, in 2013 they went for PDP, and now in primary round maximum voted for DNT,” he said, adding that, “it is a good sign of democracy getting stronger.”

He told the people that democracy is spoiled if the same strong party rules people over and over again. “If the same party gets strong, over a period of time, the public will suffer because rich will become more rich while poor will be left behind,” he added.

He said Bhutan is prospering with the many developmental activities, but the benefits are not trickling down to the poor. He pointed out that even the richest countries have more number of people living in poverty.

“Our country is a GNH country where every individual should be happy, but if we don’t provide developmental approach accordingly then that can never happen,” he added. DNT’s theme narrowing a gap will address such issues

He said that no matter which party forms the government next, a continuation of work from the previous government will be carried out. “Hydropower is important as that is the main source of revenue. But it can also be the one that can ruin the country at times. With that, we have hydropower in our manifesto after consultation with the experts from DGPC and BPC,” he added.

He said that pledges must include new ideas to take the country forward. DNT President said the same plans as those reflected in five-year plans will be redundant.

He said the students who have not been able to study further after failing to get into government schools in class XI are wasting away, as most cannot find employment and then turn to drugs. He said such school leavers are made to find jobs when they are just 15 to 16 years of age.

“They won’t get jobs at that age and that leads to addiction to alcohol and drugs. Once they are into those things, they cannot be changed and this cannot bring the country forward,” he said.

Making the children to do work is illegal, he said. Therefore, DNT has a pledge to do away with class X cut off point so as to give the opportunity to every student to study up to class XII and to be within their own dzongkhags. “We also have a plan to make all the central schools up to class XII,” he added.

DNT aims to establish more training institutes and colleges to increase the skills of students after class XII. He said investing in the future of the students and making them into productive citizens are doable things, which DNT will support.

DNT also clarified the doubts on its pledge to give six months of maternity leave allowance to mothers in rural areas. “I support the pledge on 6 months maternity leave as I know the benefit, as a doctor. However, there were many who mostly laughed at it when we said will give allowance to rural mothers,” he said.

Nevertheless, he said that after studying the facts on health issues and the importance of breast-feeding, DNT places the pledge as a doable pledge. He said the farmers do not have the luxury of resting after birth, as their income is directly dependent on how much manual work is put in. The allowance will help the mothers in the rural areas to take the necessary rest and care of themselves and their newborn.

“They (mothers) need to visit hospital until they deliver and after delivery. DNT will support the mother paying them a daily wage for 6 months. We will also increase the wage rate to Nu 450 from Nu 220 per day. This is not for mother or for a child, but this is for the country,” the DNT President said.

He said DNT is taking care of such core issues now so that the children and students have the best possible start in life. And the government will not have to spend time and resources addressing various chronic youth issues in the future, he said.

In terms of hospital, he emphasized on providing four health services (urine test, blood test, ultrasound and endoscopy) in every BHU in the gewogs.

He stressed on the importance of having four specialists in the dzongkhag hospitals, and the plans to construct a new national referral hospital with all the facilities without having to refer patients to India.

“It is not to start immediately if we win today. We need to have a plan so as to have all the facilities in country.” He further added, “Previous governments did not do but that doesn’t mean we won’t do or we cannot do. This is something that can take the country forward. If an old party is given the chance again then it shall remain as it is,” he said.

He said for the people who are in doubt of getting the budget to implement the pledges, “ Give DNT a chance and we will show you,” he said.

As for the pledge to provide free WiFi service and exemption of 5 percent mobile phone voucher tax, the DNT President said, “We are providing that not for bad usage, but to benefit the rural people who cannot afford it even though the facilities are there. We will block the sites which can affect the youth in general, we will just provide them the study material,” he added.

DNT will also give 100 percent support in terms of water supply by establishing a separate office in Thimphu with brunch offices in other district, irrigation channel, abd farming. DNT also plans to do away with Wola system of labor.

As for the string of accusations against him and the party, he said, “2018 election is going wrong. Threatening lives on social media is something to be worried about. So it is in the voters’ hands to chose the best,” DNT President said.

On 10 October, Lotay Tshering had to travel back to Thimphu for a LIVE TV debate in his constituency, after which he again travelled back to Samtse to meet the people of Gashinggaon, Phuntshopelri on 11 October. On 12 October, he met with the people of Dorokha, Samtse after which he is scheduled to meet with the people in Haa on 13 October.

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