In what is a significant development for the 2013 race the nearly 1,200 member strong political youth organization, Druk Miser Nazhoen Tshogpa (DMNT) has joined the youth wing of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Though the DMNT and the opposition party were in touch earlier the DMNT in early December 2012 dissolved DMNT and its members then joined the PDP youth wing.
An upbeat Opposition Leader Tshering Tobgay said, “It appears that DMNT did not have legal basis to function as either a political or civil society group. However, they had very clear visions, goals and objectives which are consistent with PDP’s goals for the growth of Bhutan in general and for our youth in particular. So when the leaders of the erstwhile DMNT approached us we were more than happy to welcome them into the youth wing of the PDP.”
DMNT had come into being after the earlier Druk Miser Tshogpa party transformed itself into a youth political organization with mainly youth members who were not a part of the original DMT. It is understood that the founder of DMT and one of the founders of DMNT Dasho Penjor Dorji has left DMNT.
One of the main leaders of the former DMNT Lobzang Dorji said, “The youth organization’s ultimate goal is on the subject of unemployment. Our agenda was broadcast in the media but no parties wooed our youth organization. At that critical juncture PDP encouraged us to decide the vista of Bhutan. At the same time what the youth organization aimed for is already included in the PDP manifesto. Therefore I firmly believe that PDP can support the youth organization to achieve 100 percent employment.”
An executive member of DMNT said, “For the past four years the ruling government has been involved mainly in foreign relationships and other activities instead of looking into the youth problems which have been increasing year by year. Due to this the problems of unemployment, drug addiction, gangs, etc has been increasing.”
DMNT claims to have 1,200 members and growing, who have all joined PDP
“We have received assurances that all the members of the DMNT with 1,200 core members and many other members want to and will join the PDP. However, I don’t want to transfer memberships from one organization to another and instead I have insisted on meeting each and every youth member to personally confirm their concurrence with PDP ideals and their support for the political party. In this context I have already started meeting them individually and am considering meeting them in larger groups too,” said the Opposition leaders.
He said that so far everyone he had had met very readily agreed to be with the PDP.
Earlier when DMNT was formed one of their pre conditions to joining any political party was the party’s acceptance of their 30 point agenda mainly focused on alleviating youth unemployment and signing a MoU with the party.
However, the Opposition leaders said that DMNT had joined PDP’s youth wing without any pre conditions.
“They are fully satisfied that the aims, objectives and policies of the PDP are consistent with their own aspirations,” said the Opposition Leader.
He said that it is a bit too early to announce what PDP’s manifesto holds for the youth but PDP would surely address each and every one of the concerns of the youth including ending unemployment, rooting out growing corruption and nepotism , providing equal opportunity , enhancing quality education, sports, and training and, addressing drug and alcohol abuse.
With DMNT being the largest and fastest growing youth political group and with youth (18 to 25) representing 30 percent of the electorate for the 2013 elections, the merger is expected to pay rich political dividends for the PDP.
The Opposition Leader said that since the youth formed the largest group of electorate for 2013 it was the responsibility of every party to reach out to them.
“It is common knowledge that youth make up the largest section of the electorate and it’s no secret that increasingly more and more of our youth feel disenfranchised. They cannot relate to and trust the existing leadership and most of them feel and express an utter lack of confidence in their future. Therefore it is critical that our youth become more politically active and contribute towards defining the future of our country,” said the Opposition Leader.
He said, “even if they are the youth they carry very strong ideals for a secure and prosperous Bhutan and they are willing to work towards that end which is why PDP in general and I in particular have always reached out to our youth. We feel reassured that the youth of Bhutan are increasingly turning to PDP to fulfill their hopes and aspirations for the nation.”
He said that in terms of party strength there is no denying the fact that the youth group will have contributed immensely towards the overall strength of the party.
He said this would be good for the PDP to increase its membership base and have the future of Bhutan identify with the party.
The erstwhile DMNT is expected to pack a punch as its large numbers are made up of mainly educated but unemployed graduates from rural areas all over the country in the age group of mainly 20 to 26. The group due to its wide base and mainly humble socio-economic background hold the potential to not only influence the youth vote but also the rural votes of their rural parents and relatives. The group also has a very strong networking system with each member recruiting five more members in an increasing chain. The main issue for DMNT and its members is unemployment.
“Our youth member leaders are generally unemployed out of choice to support the party-they are passionate about what they believe in and they believe in securing a better future for the youth of Bhutan,” said the Opposition Leader.
“They are very hard working and are willing to put in long hours free of cost in spite of the fact that they are unemployed. This is some serious political commitment and I respect them for that and I am absolutely proud of our youth,” he added.
The Opposition leader acknowledged that the DMNT members were not the ‘privileged few’ but were from rural areas and represented the ‘common man’.
He also said that it was good for the country as it is healthy to have youth concerned about the country and also be doing something about it and it would also be healthy for democracy as there would be more participation in the democratic process.
PDP, as of now, has plans to use their new youth muscle in mainly educating other youth about the democratic process and about the importance of taking part in that process.
“Our Youth members have indicated that they want to play an active role in social issue of the day including unemployment, corruption , nepotism , homelessness, garbage, drug abuse, etc, etc. We will consult them and start implementation in due time,” said the Opposition Leader.
The Opposition Leader said that in the last five years the ruling DPT government had failed the youth of Bhutan.
“In spite of the assurances of the government in terms of employment opportunities, the reality indicates that unemployment is rampant and as such our youth are anxious, nervous and even angry at the state of affairs. I agree with them. For a small country this is absolutely unnecessary, and we must provide meaningful jobs to each and every member of our society. Anything less means the government of the day has failed,” said the Opposition Leader
He also said that among the youth there is a perception of growing corruption and nepotism, lack of transparency, favoritism, high handedness, a sense of growing autocracy and a sense of helplessness that they cannot contribute to being part of any solution.
“Yet, they are energetic, have youthful energy and are extremely patriotic and desperately want to serve the interests of our King, Country and People in addition to taking care of their immediate families,” said the Opposition Leader.
Puran Gurung / Thimphu