“I have bigger reasons for my trip to Haa Sombeykha,” said Lyonchen Jigmi Y. Thinley during the recent ‘Meet the Press’.
The Lyonchen was responding to queries by the media and speculation by people about his recent tour to Haa which many quarters had pronounced as premature politicking for the 2013 elections.
The PM clarified that he went to see the progress of the poverty reduction program in Samtse and Haa Dzongkhags. He said that Samtse is one of the remotest parts of the country and it is essential to know the problems of people at first hand.
“Obviously he will deny this. As far as the Opposition Leader is concerned, whether he campaigned or not is secondary. I’m just grateful that he finally visited my constituency and that he would have seen first-hand the difficult conditions there,” said the Opposition Leader (OL), Tshering Tobgay.
The OL said Sombaykha and Gakiling are some of the remotest and poorest parts of Bhutan. “As such, I’m of the opinion that the PM should have visited these places earlier on.”
The Opposition Leader (OL), Tshering Tobgay, said he had heard some people complaining that the PM went to campaign.
“If PM’s special interest in my constituency translates to socio-economic gains and better living standards for my people, I will be grateful,” he added.
Lyonchen Jigmi Y.Thinley explained that the settlement pattern of Samtse is scattered with 200 households in each chiwogs which makes difficult to distribute the development facilities.
“There are no road, electricity and health facilities in these areas” said the Lyonchen. He commented that we have read in papers and heard but we did not realize how remote some of our places would be
Furthermore Lyonchen said that in one of the meetings he had promised to make a visit to these places as he had never been there since his tenure as a PM.
“We have decided and discussed so many things as 11th Five Year Plan is on the process of being formulated and it is important to address immediate problems of our people in it,” said the Lyonchen.
The public’s perception is, however, a diverse mix of assumptions, outright conclusions and some understanding with most views inclining toward – ‘indirect campaigning for 2013 elections.’
Sonam Wangdi, a private employee said that it is out of the PM’s jurisdiction to visit along with his colleagues, these places, at the last period of his Government. “It is obvious that he is going for the upcoming elections” said Sonam Wangdi
Sonam Wangyel a youth leader supposed that being a politician he is using this cause to win votes for the 2013 elections.
On the other hand, Ugyen Tshering a civil servant feels that as a serving PM of the country, he has every right to visit all places after all he is accountable to his people and more over the PM’s trip would help to frame 11th Five year Plan better with his first hand experience in these places.
Gyeltshen from Haa said that Haa is one of the neglected Dzongkhags though it is near the capital Even though there is not much income poverty people are experiencing multi dimensional poverty like health, education and road facilities.
“I don’t think PM came for politicking, I would say he came to see the progress and monitor the rehabilitation centre in Haa founded by His Majesty the Fifth King” added Gyeltshen
Treading on a rougher terrain of opinions, a researcher from a private firm observed that it is shocking to hear that the PM of Bhutan is not aware of his country.
“Why does the PM have to wait till the last year of his tenure to visit such poverty stricken places, in fact these places need to be visited first” remarked the researcher.
An aspiring politician was of the view that he appreciates the PM as a hard working and responsible leader but he feels that timing of PM’s visit is wrong as he should have visited these places at an earlier time.
“It is also startling to hear that PM is not aware of poverty in Haa areas because it is clearly shown in 2007 living Standard report that Haa border regions have the highest poverty rate,” said the political aspirant.
An eye witness of the Lyonchen’s visit, Mangimi Samdrup from Haa said that the PM didn’t talk about elections, “in fact he was discussing the problems faced by the people.
Haa National Council member Tshering Dorji, said “PM’s visit has nothing to with politicking as I was also accompanying him and in fact it was an eye opening and an inspiring moment for the people.”