The meet-the-people program is for all Bhutan citizens, not just those who have wealth and power or those who support the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay emphasized during the question hour session of the National Assembly on 19th May. He also said it’s very important to meet the fellow countrymen from the humble background.
There were 82 meetings so far held under the program that started in August 2013, aiming to get feedback from the country’s nationals directly and to redress policies and programs through their opinion. According to the government over one thousand people have attended.
A member of parliament (MP) MP Dorji Wangdi from Panbang constituency criticized the government, pointing out that the system was benefiting only the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) supporters and not the general public. Lyonchhen denied his remark, saying meet-the-people was not for the party’s supporters as the party knew them very well. “Further we can meet the supporters whenever we need or want. It doesn’t have to be through the program. You should know one doesn’t hold the PDP logo. Supporters of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) also attend the program and they are, of course, treated the same as others. People don’t even have to show their ID”, he added.
The prime minister continued the government didn’t have to see prosperous people as they were able to deal with their problems on their own. The main reason for conducting the program is to hear the voice of people from the vulnerable who are in need of help. “This scheme is for the person who doesn’t know where to share his problems”. He added that, as elected member, meeting with people is one of the most important works for the cabinet. It’s also one of the principles of democracy.
According to the government’s announcement, letters were sent to concerned agencies for 60% of the grievances made at the meet-the-people meeting. Remaining 40% was found to be Kidu issues which fell under the prerogative of His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo.
The Ramjar-Khamdang representative Sonam D Dorjee, who’s also a PDP member said, “I have also attended the program. There were other parties’ supporters and the government was helping them too. So we should not think that program is only for PDP supporter”. This remark, Lyonchhen pointed out, also backed the government’s view and the opposition members were more than welcomed to attend the meeting to see who comes and what’s discussed.
The prime minister added if there was any doubt regarding the program the government would share the list of people who have attended the program.