A new batch of parliamentarians are in the making as the nation awaits the general rounds of the National Assembly elections, and the rural voters are taking into account how much was done by the first batch of MPs, and what never came to fruition, although promised ever-so gallantly during the 2008 campaigns.
Going by the spice of conversations- it is a mix of emotions on which developmental activities were achieved by respective MPs during the first five years of democratically elected government as promised or what developmental plans were already meant to be achieved under five year plans.
The bridges and farm roads that the candidates promised back then have all fallen through after five years. The promises that they made to address youth-related problems namely unemployment seemed a lie at the end of the first government’s term.
Ap Gomchen from Punakha said his demkhong’s candidate had promised many developmental programs in his village, but fulfilled none.
“We didn’t expect much from them, but we are extremely in need of good drinking water supply. The same problem with drinking water supply was there before five years and the problem persists even after five years,” he said.
A graduate Sangay Dorji is still hunting for a job, although he believes he has all the requirements that a graduate should possess in order to get a good job.
“My grades are good and all other requirements are good as well. I have been running after a job for the past 6 months and there are thousand other graduates just like me. There are others who have been running after a job for 3-4 years,” he said.
“In 2008, I heard them (candidates campaigning during 2008) saying repeatedly that they will solve the problem of unemployment. But I can clearly see and feel myself; the major issue with youth at present is unemployment. Whenever we complain about unemployment they directly point out our capabilities. But how can they know about our capabilities without giving us a chance. I can say many of us possess good results,” Sangay Dorji added.
Another graduate Sonam Zangmo shared the same view and her frustrations at not being able to land a single job, which has added to her depression.
“Though I possess a degree certificate, I am holding the post of a twelfth/tenth-passed student as an office assistant. This is not because I lack requirements of the job market, it is only due to less opportunities,” she said.
A businessman from Thimphu said, “Developmental discussions for the Demkhongs were rarely witnessed in Parliament. Whenever we watch their discussions on TV we have always seen them discuss about the salaries of civil servant and their own.”
Some of the farmers said they had never seen such leaders who turn their back on their supporters after getting the power they wanted.
“It is shameful for ordinary people to break their promises, but MPs breaking theirs is like a different level of lying,” said a farmer in Mongar.
The core message of rural voters is that MPs didn’t make promises to few individuals, but to villages full of people multiplied by the number of constituencies visited by the respective MPs while they were campaigning.
The rural populace are disheartened that candidates could go as far as to promise to look after each and every individual’s problem, but after five years of their tenure in power, they have failed even to bring the basic necessities to the demkhongs, such as drinking water supply and usable farm roads which are simple aspirations of every villager.
Some village residents say that their MPs have never visited their villages after the 2008 election was over.
“They came to our village after five years for the next election, again to make fake promises and to grasp votes from us,” Sangay a farmer in his late forties said.
He also added, “We don’t have anything to show as a product of past five year’s democracy. I don’t know about other regions. This time we are trying to choose the person who will honestly lead our demkhong in the right direction of development.”
Damchoe / Thimphu