The Opposition Leader Dr Pema Gyamtsho said that the Opposition party Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) is the strongest party on the ground for the upcoming 2018 polls.
The OL also dismissed rumors that the DPT is dissolving or would not come for the 2018 polls.
The Opposition Leader said, “I can confidently say we still remain the strongest party on the ground.”
The OL spoke on the matter during the Journalists Association of Bhutan organized ‘Wednesday Chat’ in response to a question from the reporter on DPT’s 2018 prospects and plans.
“Look at the candidates; we still have the old candidates and 15 MPs in the house. Four or five of the candidates will not be able to continue (after 2018) due to their age but people are willing to come forward and take their place so there is no problem.”
On some of the political lessons learnt, the OL said that post 2013 the party has had regular meetings and areas for improvement for the party was discussed.
“We did some soul searching,” the OL said.
He said that since democracy was new people in the past had gone out looking for candidates at the 11th hour and some candidates had not even heard about DPT or PDP but got in just because there was a vacancy.
“In 2008 and 2013 this may be forgiven but in 2018 or down the line there should not be a situation where there is an 11th hour scampering for candidates,” said the OL.
“Parties are not just for winning or contesting in an election but they should be there as long term institution and this goes for all parties, not just the DPT,” added the OL.
The OL said that other areas of feedback was there being too many tshogpas and need for a change in the campaigning platforms etc. He said there were also similar findings done by other parties.
He pointed out that there was a need to amend the Election Act to make some changes but where or not it can be done is questionable.
Commenting on the 2013 loss the OL said, “I firmly believe that the change in the government is good for democracy as it provides an opportunity to the people to assess the performance of both the past and present governments.”
He said that it also gives a chance to the people to compare the two Opposition parties.
The Opposition leader is currently on a 20 Dzongkhag tour and so far has already finished around 18 Dzongkhags where he met with local leaders and the local people talking about various issues.
Talking about the priority of the Opposition party the OL said that it is to strengthen peace and unity and also allow the government to put in place its policies and programs and do its job instead of opposing from day one. He said that the Opposition has been generally been supportive and expressed it views and positions on certain issues.
The OL said that so far the Opposition party has not gone ‘all out’ to make life difficult for the government, but now with half its term over and the midterm review over it is time for the Opposition to critically analyze and provide alternative views and options.
The OL explained this is why of late the Opposition party has been expressing its views more frequently on various issues like BoIC, Central Schools, BBIN, Thromdes, Local Government Act etc in press conferences and press releases.
He said that the Opposition is not there for the sake of Opposition and it is also not a destructive one. Giving an example he said that some the party’s own leaders and supporters asked why the Opposition was not taking the government to court when it breached certain Constitutional principles like the former Opposition did in the past.
He said that the government and opposition should figure out issues in the Parliament and if matters were settled in court then it would set a precedent.
The OL said there are also oversight bodies like the ACC for corruption, RAA for audit issues, Judiciary and Media to play their respective roles.
He highlighted that for each ministry DPT had shadow ministers like MP Dubtho for MoIC, MP Rinzin Jamtsho for MoLHR, MP Dorji Wangdi for Ministry of Education and others to monitor and bring up issues.
The OL said in his 18 Dzongkhags tour so far one issue that came up constantly was on BoIC as only a very few people had actually gotten loans and many had spent a lot of money trying to get the loans but not getting them.
He also talked about traditional water mills being destroyed by officials.
He questioned the Royal Civil Service Commission’s Organizational Development exercise saying it is no longer a Human Resource exercise but is affecting other areas. He gave the example of the abolition of the Dzongkhag Forest Officer role and its impact on social forestry.
The OL said that Environmental Clearance for building rural houses was leading to people not being able to build houses in rural areas.
Questioning the government’s performance report on the mid-term review the OL gave the example of the agricultural and livestock outputs which he said is not possible as it is too high and not based on ground realities.