Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y Thinley called off the early dissolution of the government during his State of the Nation address in the Parliament on Monday and said that the government will continue until the completion of its tenure on 20 April.
He attributed the reasons to ‘national interest’ and setting of precedence.
A month ago, the Prime Minister called for ‘early dissolution’ of the government, tentatively by March 7.
The new political parties are relieved with this news as it means more time for them in familiarization tours with the electorate. At the same time behind the relaxed grip, some members do question the basis of such an announcement as it is deemed that it cannot be entirely out of ‘the goodness of the DPT’s heart’.
Lyonchhen said that ‘if the government dissolved early’, there was a possibility that some of the new parties may not be ready for the elections, being unable to get enough candidates in order to qualify with the election commission. “We were hearing, that this is going to be working in favor of the ruling government,” elaborated Lyonchhen at the Monday Meet the Press session.
“This was absolutely untrue because a government, if it extends its term, will always be at an advantage,” he said. “It gives us six more weeks to complete many things that we have yet to complete.” He said the government did not want to be blamed for the possibility of a fewer parties participating in the electoral process.
“I have always been in favor of the NA completing its term so the early dissolution called off is a good news but what confuses me is everything seems to be ad-hoc as having submitted a recommendation, how could the decision have been reversed now, ,” said the Opposition Leader, Tshering Tobgay.
Wondering at the calling off ‘dissolution’, Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP) President, Sonam Tobgay said “An early dissolution as I said in the past warrants a very strong justification. Now that the government has taken back the decision makes one wonder their earlier rationale claiming national interest corresponding to budget cycles, monsoons and farming seasons.” He added “With or without a premature dissolution of the government, Bhutan Kuen-Nyam is ready to contest for the upcoming elections by strictly adhering to all electoral laws”.
The Media focal person of the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), Norbu Wangchuk said “It’s the decision of the PM. It is also a prerogative of His Majesty to endorse it. We are happy that we have time to familiarize ourselves with people in the constituency.”
The President of Druk Chirwang Tshogpa (DCT) Lily Wangchhuk, said that the “party welcomes the decision of the government and we are also glad that we have more time to work towards a better party and prepare for the primary rounds.”
Earlier the PM gave three reasons to dissolve early. The first was to enable the next government to be able to pass the annual budget in its first year at its first session and this required time to prepare the budget.
The second was that the new government will be late to function which will not allow the new government to pass or decide on the 11th FYP, which can also help the new government to make their manifesto, their pledges and promises.
The last concerned farmers, . If dissolved early, the time would fall at ‘farming seasons’ and this time they will need to attend five different political parties and coming to the polls thrice is already a problem for them.
It was also about the monsoon season where the farm roads that are yet to be stabilized could pose a threat to the people while travelling.
However, observors also point out that a strong factor in not dissolving the government early would be the simple fact that each DPT MP stood to lose around Nu 600,000 each. This is because the NA had failed to reach an agreement with the National Council in amending the Parliamentary Entitlement Act in this last session. Withouth the amendment NA MPs would not be eligible to get their benefits.
Puran Gurung / Thimphu