One of the first parties to declare an interest in the 2013 elections the Druk Mitser Tshogpa (DMT) represented by its party symbol of a farmer plowing the field has officially been dissolved as a political party.
DMT President, Dasho Penjor Dorji who ironically was one of the founders of DPT in 2008 said, “We have decided to dissolve the DMT as a political party.”
This will mean that for the 2013 race the contest is now between the two existing parties of DPT and PDP and the three other new parties of Bhutan KuenNgyam Party, Druk Chirwang Tshogpa and the yet to register Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa.
DMT was considerably weakened when the rank and file of its original members left to form DCT.
The DMT will instead evolve into a political ‘youth organization’ called the Druk Me-Ser Nazhoen Tshogpa (DMNT), a youth driven organization that will lobby with political parties to establish its 30 point agenda.’
The DMNT which has mainly youth leaders not affiliated to the original DMT claims to have already 700 new youth members and growing, and aims to be a youth lobby group to represent the large youth voting bloc in 2013. Its slogan is ‘You help us, we help you’
Dasho Penjor Dorji who is an adviser and one of the founders of DMNT said, “Any contesting party that wants the votes of DMNT- that compromises 60% of the country’s population, should incorporate our 30-point agenda in their manifesto.”
He said “now the political parties can’t make hollow promises and wash their hands from the youth issues and employment.”
He said once a political party accepts the 30 point agenda the promises will be completely based on legal documentation and the political party will be accountable according to the pact signed between the contesting party and the DMNT’.
He said that in case more than one party supported the 30 point agenda then the parties would be asked to unite by the DMNT in the interest of reducing the number of political parties.
He also said that in case no party supported the 30 point agenda the DMNT would compete as a youth political party.
The DMNT though an off shoot of the DMT, according to its founders is a different organization from the former DMT itself.
One of its key movers and shakers is Lobzang Dorji who is a member of the young Interim Executive Committee and the head of the political wing of the DMNT youth organization.
Lobzang had served previously as a captain and College President in Sherubtse.
Lobzang said, “The throne has always told us all that the ‘future of the nation lies in the hand of the youth’ and we will always work dynamically to fulfill this very statement. Let us gear up for a new beginning, let us design the vista of Bhutan that we want for our future generations and let us use votes to make it happen.”
Lobzang Dorji said that the 30-point agenda will be geared for creating youth employment, fighting the youth unemployment in the country and ensure 100% job guarantee.
He said his youth organization feels the need to facilitate vibrant democracy in the country.
“Despite showing strong indicators in the graph of gross domestic product, there are still crucial problems looming large as most of the youths are unemployed triggering many of the social issues like substance abuse, school drop-outs, arrays of hoodlums and many more,” said Lobzang.
DMNT has taken on a life of its own and with a mainly young team is moving fast and adding record youth members. DMNT consists of six wings which are its Dzongkhag level wing, Commercial wing, Employment wing, Research wing, Women Empowerment wing and Welfare wing. It has 11 core members of the organization in addition to 700 active members.
Lobzang said that DMNT started adding mass members after organizing a youth meet in YDF and asking each youth to bring in five members and they in turn should bring in five members each. He said that in the first meet the youth were briefed and there was strong support for DMNT as a youth organization to lobby for the youth.
He said that DMNT would get support from students in education institutes like Sherubtse, Gaeddu Business College and other tertiary institutes including unemployed youth and others.
Among many of the now tentative agendas of DMNT are zero tolerance towards corruption, creating employment and rural development.
DMNT will also be making policies on pressing issues concerning the youth and it will also attempt to empower the private sector for creating more jobs for the youth. They will also try to revamp fiscal policies.
The youth driven organization firmly believes in ‘zero import of agriculture products and livestock as well as ‘zero tolerance to corruption’. The members also reiterated on earlier statements to the media about reviving Bhutan Lottery which was closed down abruptly by the government- to restart and work for it so that they get the funds to sustain themselves.
Another ground DMNT will work on is the Hydropower projects. Import of casual labor from neighboring countries will be cut off thus creating local employment for downstream benefits and if need be, only skilled labors will be hired only to further disseminate the skills to local laborers. According to Dasho Penjor graduates will have to undergo National Service working among other places at these hydropower sites in return for fair wages and a National Service certificate.
Another prime focus of the organization shall be on the gaming industry, considered to be a major potential contributor to the exchequer.
The funds for their projects will be from different stakeholders like individuals, private sectors, corporations and international organizations as well their own initiatives.
The 30-point agendas include promoting brand Bhutan, taxation reforms (like capital gain tax), education, hydropower, foreign direct investments and many other pressing social issues.
It will further open up a ‘Youth Bank’ to ensure entrepreneur schemes for the youth helping with loans that will be contributed by many stakeholders that supports youth organization like private sectors, corporations, international agencies. Lobzang said that the ‘private sector is not healthy enough to grow and give employment proportionately’. He said “what affects the growth of private sector is due to capital constraints, government policies, and human resources”.
He said that with 60% of Bhutan’s population comprising the youth, they should be actively engaged in making policies.
Puran Gurung & Minjur Dorji