Rarity in disparity – a play for numbers for now

The next big Elections is just around the bend, registration is a lifeline for the new (unregistered) parties, candidates are an elusive lot or just unavailable and invisible. Parties old and new are however calm behind their ‘strategies’ and big speeches

Aspiring political parties are no doubt raring to go for 2013, but more than the high kicks and upbeat attitudes, the need of the hour is ‘candidates’ to fulfill the first election commission criterion, that of registration as bonafide political parties.
The first step is however the most difficult step, agree political players. Most are of the view that unless people come forward, right now, there are virtually no candidates to rope-in or approach. Those that are capable are already in a party, interested with their own strict terms and conditions or just plain disinterested.
Many party workers and members said, with a mere 700,000 population it’s difficult to get good candidates as well as a fine president.
“Right now, all the new political parties are having a hard time hunting for the right candidate because with five parties it’s difficult to get the best out of best,” said a party worker.
Tandin Tshering, the spokesperson for Druk Chirwang Tshogpa (DCT) said “getting competent candidates is difficult for the party and with already five existing political parties it has become tougher”.
Though DCT has a good number of candidates it is still on the hunt for candidates to fill the constituency berths.
The DCT spokesperson said “We have met ECB to talk about the guidelines for registration since we don’t want to go break the law”.
Sonam Tobgay, spokesperson for the Bhutan Kuen-Ngyam Party (BKP) said a party must take it steady to ensure the team comprises clean, competent and committed people. “And yes, getting people of such nature has been a challenge”.
Nevertheless as far BKP is concerned, “a leader should emerge within the team,” said Sonam Tobgay.
The BKP he said is currently more focused on collective wisdom, knowledge, experience and collective empowerment.
“We also take a leader’s role as critical but not everything.” said Sonam Tobgay.
He said that registration does not require nomination of any single candidates but it does require membership with adequate representation and credible composition. He said BKP does not see it as a delay but rather views the timing of registration from a strategic and practical perspective.
The BKP spokesperson confirmed that the party plans to register by October.
Dr. Tandi Dorji, the spokesperson for Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) with a different take on the issue said getting competent candidates is not the sole responsibility of the party.
“It is also for the concerned citizens who should come forward to participate in politics if they want make a difference,” he said.
“We are waiting for the president to accept; otherwise the party is ready for registration.”
Dr. Tandi Dorji said, a party does not need to have 47 members for registration but it has to have 47 members from 47 constituencies. The party has to on the other hand name the president during the registration.
On the contrary, Director of Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), Dawa Tenzin said before registering, everything should be set and a list of tentative candidates should be presented.
A political party registered by the ECB, is required to be broad based with cross national membership and support; be committed to national cohesion and stability.
As of now except for the ruling Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) and opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who are officially registered with ECB, the new ones who have largely announced themselves still bear the tag of ‘aspiring political parties’.
However even for the incumbents, although it may seem to be a milk run, at least in terms of membership, inside stories reveal few unsecured areas where they might have to scratch from ground zero.
“PDP has registered since 2007, but we have to give the list of candidates before the elections” said a core member of PDP. He added that the party has almost 80% of candidates ready.
The DPT which will meet for the fourth general meeting will not discuss anything on the party ticket since they have to wait for the government to dissolve.
The officiating Secretary General of DPT Tshewang Rinzin said “Party tickets won’t be discussed in the upcoming general assembly since it would demoralize the existing MPs who are still running their term”.
However, the DPT Secretary General Thinley Gyamtsho told The Bhutanese in his earlier interview that when it comes to party ticket it would completely depend upon the performance of the MPs “as well support for the MP from their respective Constituencies”.

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