The much awaited result of the bye-election of the Chhoekhor-Tang constituency in Bumthang is finally out with Dawa from the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) securing almost 63% of the total votes cast on Thursday.
While this election may not have been that significant in terms of the size and magnitude compared to the elections that are held after every five years, what made it interesting was the inquisitiveness among certain people about how the voters of this constituency will vote this time.
But going by the votes cast, the voters of this constituency, who have been a staunch supporters of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) until now, have changed sides this time around by choosing DNT’s Dawa as the new National Assembly MP-elect.
The game changer, according to reports that have been coming in, are because of the DNT’s pledges to blacktop farm roads in Tang, Dhur and Chhoekhor Toed and delivering four specialists to Bumthang as early as January next year.
Further, DNT’s edge in this bye-election has been the DNT president and Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering himself campaigning on behalf of the DNT candidate. Even if promises coming from a candidate may sound and appear rhetoric, what made them more reassuring were the words coming from the Prime Minister himself that the promises would be fulfilled.
Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, during the campaig in Chhoekhor-Tang constituency, promised to recruit four specialists at the earliest for the Wangdicholing general hospital.
According to the Lyonchhen, Bumthang was prioritized as a token of gratitude for the people of Chhoekhor-Tang, should its candidate Dawa win. However, even if Dawa loses, the specialists would be provided but it would ‘take its own time’.
The bye-election on Thursday reportedly saw no major discrepancies arising from political parties as well as voters, but a big emerging concern is the type of political culture that we are building up. What type of precedence are we setting? Going by the case in Bumthang, aren’t we dictating voters to vote with promises of gifts and freebies? How long can we go along with such trend?
Our development criteria hitherto have been based on the need, population and requirement of the respective gewogs and dzongkhags. One emerging concern, therefore, is how can the government of the day prioritize gewog and district for development based on whether the people in one place vote for the candidate as chosen by the government? Aren’t voters already coerced and compelled then to vote for the candidate that the government wants to win?
Further, to fulfill the pledges of four specialists, plans have also been shared like recruiting expats per se. But we know that such system comes at a huge cost. Bangladeshi specialists, for example, take home a minimum of USD 4,000 as monthly salary. Sustainability obviously is another issue.
This type of political or democratic culture that we are building up, therefore, is something we as a small country cannot afford. Our reason for voting in elections shouldn’t be about which party or candidate is giving us what, but which party or candidate would benefit the country and the people. That is what makes it a sacred responsibility!