In 2008 the Bhutanese society in many places divided into two groups, two factions, and two sections along party lines and in support of the two parties who contested the country’s first democratically held elections. This year, for the 2013 elections, there are five contesting parties, which means the nation may experience the same events, only that everything will be ‘times five’.
The fraction created by the two contesting parties in the 2008 elections would be multiplied by 5 in the upcoming elections as events build up to it with all the sound and fury of political familiarizations and campaigns which will not be entirely free of ‘mudslinging’ and ‘smear campaigns’. They may be through subtle mode of transmitted word-of-mouth or through announcements during publicly delivered speeches in the constituencies.
Bhutan as is apparent and also very oft-repeated by many is a small country. And in that, it constitutes very small groups of people spread across the nation’s hilly terrains and valleys to form the small Bhutanese society.
Given the ‘tight-knit’ connection that arises out of the ‘default settings’, it does keep men, women children in various communities together in thought and sentiments as one – oneness among neighbors, communities and eventually as citizens of this landlocked Himalayan nation.
The very relief and nature of the land will also at the same time prove advantageous to politicize ideas and messages into the minds of the remotely situated citizenry and even those located closer to urban centers and developmental hubs.
It would prove to be very much of a sordid state of affairs for this small nation, if people should strongly incline to five different ideologies, mission and vision to ultimately remain damagingly separated as five different sects of one country which as a whole is better off to stay one small country, but one that is a united one.
During the meet the press on 4 March, the Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley responded to media queries on the much probable whiplash of democratic nitty-gritty.
In all this, said the Lyonchhen, the media would be able to play a role to differentiate what is ‘sid’ (politics) and what is ‘si’ (conflicts) for the general electorate.
The prime minister said generally and even internationally, ‘a word’ that slips out of a person’s mouth, can be used by different media to add the much-needed fuel to fire up news articles whereby the propagating agent which comprises broadcast, print, radio or television mediums gains incredible mileage with their readers, viewers, listeners.
This, the PM said would turn the process of politics (sid) to a process of conflicts (si). He advised that media should not cash in on opportunities like these just to up the readership, attract more listeners or to raise the TRP (Television Rating Points). Rather the respective mediums should take into account the kind of damages it could inflict on the country and act accordingly.
Lyonchhen reminded the media about the 2008 scene of things when the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) generated support bases in the constituencies.
The DPT according to him had not participated in any such deeds to malign the other side to make good one’s own side.
He said the DPT immediately after its election as the ruling government took measures to address and heal the after-effects of the politicking activities. The media, PM said should be well aware of these past events from its coverage from then.
An instance of one such incident back then was the party supporters who drove around DPT campaigning sites ‘shouting’ and ‘screaming’. Among such groups, there were people from the business communities.
“After the elections, as the government in power, the DPT did not discriminate these people as ‘those from the other side’ and treated them with equality,” the Lyonchhen said.
“The kind of political parties that the country needs are the ones that, during election campaigns does not act to create factions and leave people and communities divided, secondly when it comes to governance, it should function without any partiality or indifference to different people or sections of people and act with ‘equity and justice’ in their minds to uphold the peace and stability of the nation.”
The PM jokingly concluded that like the fortune teller who according to a BBS reporter predicted much of ‘si’ or conflict in 2013, he can also predict that there will be many people partaking in the process of ‘sid’ or the democratic election events.
“I hope and I don’t think any major conflicts (si) should come to pass,” said the Prime Minister.
And for that, said the PM, “media should act to ensure it.”
During the nation’s first national parliamentary election the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), as of March 2008 registered a total of 111 cases
These did not include some cases being directly addressed by election officials in districts and constituencies.
Sonam Pelvar / Thimphu