In a sign of the importance of the North Thimphu contest, both the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader criticized each other’s party candidate’s statements and both also said that they are confident of a win.
The Prime Minister focused on the statement made by the DPT candidate Kezang Wangmo on the Thursday debate where she said that DPT had prepared the 11th plan and secured its funding, while talking about the developmental works in North Thimphu.
Lyonchhen said, “If anybody says that the earlier government mobilized the 11th plan funds then it is an outright lie. Most of the funds were from the GoI and it was only in August 2013 on my first visit abroad (to New Delhi) that we spoke with GoI and that was when we received Nu 45 bn for the plan and Nu 5 bn for the ESP.”
The PM went on to say the current government in fact spoke with European Union and the Japan government.
“The Round Table Meetings with donors had not been conducted, funds had not been raised and it was a big mess and so we raised the funds for the 11th plan,” the PM added.
Lyonchhen said that while the 11th plan formulation began with the previous government he said the current government made changes to it, added heavily to it and then only had finalized it.
The PM said that several developmental activities carried out in North Thimphu were not even in the 11th plan and neither was he approached for it either by the Local Government, Thromde or the former DPT MP Kinga Tshering.
Giving an example he said that blacktopping of Gewog Center roads including the ones in North Thimphu were neither there in the 11th plan or DPT’s manifesto. He said another major project was the new bridge in Dechencholing as earlier there were major traffic jams there. He also gave the example of the Hejo bridge. He said even though the Pamtsho bridge is in the Thimphu Structural plan it is this government that ensured that it got built.
The PM said that from his time as an Opposition Leader he had always said that areas of North Thimphu like Kawang and others needed better facilities due to their large population and proximity to Thimphu. The PM said Kawang was one of the first roads to be blacktopped due to this reason.
“DPT’s statement that the MP did the developmental works is a cause of concern for all DPT constituencies as their MP’s during 2018 will go around saying their MPs did it. The government does developmental work not MPs. Even if they don’t want to give credit to the government they should at least keep quiet,” the PM said.
The PM said that the feedback coming from the ground is that PDP would win but it is not about winning and losing and even if PDP wins, it will have to work hard and guard against complacency setting in.
He said that many former DPT supporters have come to PDP saying their party has let them down and their support to PDP is mainly based on the government’s proven track record in the last three years. The PM said that people should come out to vote and not assume that PDP would win. The PM said that there was also feedback on some voters feeling fed up due to the frequent elections.
Lyonchhen said that he would be campaigning from Saturday and he would start by going along Norzin Lam meeting people, whether they are registered in North Thimphu or not.
On the national and symbolic importance of the race the PM said that it is important in the sense that this current seat is vacant, otherwise every constituency and every election is important.
Hitting back the Opposition Leader Pema Gyamtsho said, “It is petty of the Prime Minister to respond to the issues in the debate.”
The OL while acknowledging some blacktopping of roads from GoI funding said that the 11th plan does not exactly specify and it is more like a blanket budget. He said whoever forms the government of the day the planning is already done and it is immaterial which party is in power as the GoI or other donors will deal with the government of the day.
“We can say their candidates position that only ruling party MPs can bring development shows no understanding on the role of MPs and why we need an Opposition. The role of MP is not just development but also legislation, policy and ensure things go as per the plan,” said the OL.
He said going by the PDP candidate’s position when there were only two Opposition MPs then the two would not be able to say anything. He said it was during the former government’s time that roads to Gasa and Sombyekha started and there was also telecom and electrification facilities.
On the DPT’s chances the OL said that their assessment is that the ground realities are different and they are very confident. “We take our campaigning very seriously and we go by the book. We have also done door to door campaigning,” the OL said.
The OL said that though the election is important as any other constituency and election it will also be a barometer of the performance and also a barometer for democracy.
Countering the PM’s assertion on the DPT manifesto of 2013 the OL said that DPT had also promised blacktopping of GC roads.
The OL said that government in a rush to complete the East-West highway by 2018 has ruined the entire road, caused a lot of damage to the Environment and also caused irreparable damage to the Tourism Industry.
Here the PM said that even when the Paro-Thimphu highway was being widened there were a lot of complaints but now everybody is fine. He said building the road in stretches is not feasible as it would take forever and moreover contractors had been asked to work at night to not disrupt traffic. The PM said if the East-West highway is not built now it would be more difficult in the future when there is more heavy traffic. He said the highway is needed for the East.
The OL said that as long as the PM has the ECB’s permission and is not using government resources he should campaign. The OL also said that he would also be campaigning himself.