Putting the election campaigns on hold, the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) president and senior party leaders were back in the capital to discuss the brunt of the sudden withdrawal of subsidy on LPG and Kerosene by the Indian Government (GoI).
DPT president Jigmi Y Thinley also addressed issues that are currently the hot topic in almost every circle in the country, that of Bhutan-India relations and the 11th Five Year Plan (FYP) funds, which have still not been received from the GoI.
These issues have lead the president and the senior party members to put their election campaigns on hold and discuss the matter at a press conference held in Thimphu on Thursday at the DPT president’s residence.
“The lifting of subsidy which immediately impacts about 360,000 Bhutanese and approximately 76,000 households is of greater concern than the election campaign,” the DPT president said.
The majority affected would be the people with low income, and therefore, matters needed to be addressed immediately.
Jigmi Y Thinley said that he called up the chief advisor of the Interim Government to express his concerns and has appealed to take the urgent steps in resolving these issues.
The chief advisor of the Interim Government, Lyonpo Sonam Tobgye has contacted the External Affairs Ministry, G0I to find ways to resolve the issues.
The DPT president said, if re-elected, DPT’s first priority will be to solve these issues immediately, and take up the matter with G0I.
“I’m confident that the Government of India will be sympathetic, and accept our request as it has in the past,” he added.
He also thanked Interim Government and hoped the solution would be found soon.
DPT president said he is deeply saddened, as many Bhutanese people are in the process of dragging the Bhutan-India relations into electoral processes and that might have unnecessarily offended our neighbor.
”Without any need we have gone out of way to offend them,” he added.
The party president appealed to the president of PDP to “not to put bilateral relations in electoral process.” He added that the issues will not be understood well by these countries. He said the relations with every country will be significant and profitable for Bhutan.
He said bringing in foreign relations in electoral process is not good, unwise and it is very dangerous for any small country. In addition, he said disturbing matters such as these are giving rise to great confusion and sadness among our people.
“It will not be good, not be in the interest of our two countries to discuss this very sensitive and very sacred matter in a true sense,” said the DPT president.
Bhutan-India relation built over a long period by our kings and our governments are precious, he said. He assured everyone that the relationship between two countries will be continuously strengthened no matter who assumes the responsibility of government.
The DPT in a letter had clearly mentioned and requested PDP not to drag Bhutan-India relations as electoral subject, as relationship between Bhutan and India must be kept above and beyond the party politics, at all times.
In the letter, DPT mentioned the public debates where most of the common forums portrayed Bhutan-India relations in a negative light and people have been told that GOI is no longer going to support Bhutan’s developmental activities.
The DPT is disheartened with references being made to the small countries with which they established relations, as it was described as ‘not important.’
“As a sovereign and independent country, it is important to have relations with these countries,” stated Jigmi Y Thinley.
The DPT also expressed concerns over the inappropriate references to the Institution of Monarchy.
“One of our concerns is the inappropriate references to His Majesty the King and undermining the prerogatives of sovereignty, in particular, with regards to census and land,” the DPT president said.
“We understand people being asked to fill up the forms and to submit the documentation regarding census. Documentation and the procedures that are involved in the granting citizenship should be left to the government,” he added.
Jigmi Y Thinley also said granting of citizenship and land is the sole prerogative of His Majesty the King, and no one should presume to have such powers.
“It is not possible, not necessary and nobody is more concerned about this matter then His Majesty himself,” said the DPT president.
With regard to the 11th FYP fund allegations, he told the gathering of reporters from the local media that the Government of Bhutan has yet to receive the fund from the GoI.
The DPT president said there is no 11th FYP as yet, and it’s not accurate that it has begun. Formulation and the framing of the 11th FYP should be approved by the National Assembly, which will be the first task of the new government.
Only after the approval and finalization, the process of mobilizing resources and fund would begin. In addition, he said they have already indicated the amount, but the formal negotiations must take place between two governments.
The past government had made arrangements for the Royal Government to hold discussions with other donor countries through the round table meeting to be held in Thimphu this October.
The DPT president also appealed to the people for forgiveness, and for failing to conduct the electoral process in a way that befits the Bhutanese culture.
He appealed to both parties and its members to ensure the rest of the electoral process to be conducted in the most appropriate manner and with the kind of modesty that the people accept.