This most definitely comes as a timely blessing for the new parties who feel that they need all the time available to introduce themselves to the masses in the constituencies. And it would come to pass as a most legitimate feeling because for many in the rural constituencies, the general belief is that the incumbent Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) and the opposition party People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are the only two parties since 2008.
The fresh candidates and parties are yet to get a foothold in their respective constituencies and they had earlier expressed grievances that the campaign period will be too short. With this ECB announcement, at least, their previous fear of ‘no familiarization for 2013 elections’, are peacefully rested.
Parties have deployed orders and men.
Earlier, there were grievances and concerns expressed through media (print) about no ‘level playing field’ as ‘in the 2008 campaigns there was no need for loud campaigns as people were already aware about the two parties in the first democratic elections’.
The press release from ECB on 4 February comes after newly registered Political Parties that approached the Election Commission of Bhutan sought permission to go for familiarization tour.
In the press release it is mentioned that the new parties could introduce the Party, Charter and office bearers, address organizational issues, set up the Party’s Dzongkhag offices, register new members, and consult with local members.
The press release also states: “Party shall refrain from carrying out any activity that may generally be understood to be in the nature of conducting an election campaign…”
“Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP) is only working towards fulfilling all the requirements of letter of intent that we need to submit to ECB to make the party legitimate. If the letter of intent gets rejected, there is no point for familiarization or campaigning,” said BKP Interim President, Sonam Tobgay. He also thanked ECB, and said that such a notification has ‘created good public awareness’.
In this context, all the five parties of Bhutan- DPT, PDP, Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP), Druk Chirwang Tshogpa (DCT) and Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa needs to submit the ‘letter of intent’.
“We are finalizing logistics. DCT has deployed three teams to East, South and West. They will brief the party coordinators, finish office requirements and distribute party forms,” said DCT Interim President, Lily Wangchhuk.
“As far as DNT is concerned, it is neither familiarizing or campaigning, we are just introducing party and candidates to the electorates and working on other logistics like party offices, identifying party coordinators and also, seeking views from the electorate,” said General Secretary of DNT, Tandi Dorji. He also added that ‘while some candidates are out in the field, some remain here in the head office and DNT candidates are taking turns to go to the field’.
Thirty candidates from Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa are already in their constituencies on an introductory tour. They got an approval for an introductory visit to the constituencies from the Election Commission of Bhutan on February 2. The approval came after the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa made a formal request to the Commission to introduce their party to the grassroots.
Some members of DNT have remained in Thimphu coordinating some important things that needs to be done here and also preparing brochures and pamphlets of the party. There are currently 31 confirmed candidates in DNT.
Puran Gurung / Thimphu