PM says Dasho Sonam Kinga refused offer to be DNT President

Replying to a question from the media about words circling that Dasho Dr. (PHD) Sonam Kinga, who has joined Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), would be the new President of the party, Prime Minister (PM) Dr. Lotay Tshering at the 49th Meet the Press held on April 13, 2023, said that as of now, Dasho Sonam Kinga has refused to accept the offer of party president. However, the PM said that by any standard, he personally feels that Dasho Sonam Kinga deserves the highest post.

Elaborating on Dasho joining DNT, the PM said that the news in the market about Dasho Sonam Kinga about to form a new party is true. “He was actually going to form a party. However, almost at the time of the declaration, two new parties were formed. Taking that highest ground of moral responsibility, he sincerely believed that there was no room for another party, then he decided to join DNT,” the PM said.

The PM added that personally, he would feel very comfortable being Dasho Sonam Kinga’s deputy, and that there will be a vast difference in the works conducted.  

PM reiterated that no decision has being made at the moment about whether PM will be head of DNT or not. “But I am re-contesting as a candidate of South Thimphu and Dasho Sonam Kinga as Bartsham Shongphu candidate under Trashigang district,” PM said.

On his decision to re contest, the PM said that it all started back in 2018, when he accepted the presidency. The PM said that he willingly made a statement during party presidency acceptance day that if given 5 years to serve, there seems no point in re-contesting as all the goals would have been fulfilled in that given duration.

“And if in the given five years I am not able to fulfill the set goals, then additional years can’t make it happen, so why come back? Either way, there is no point in my running again,” the PM said, adding that he still believes that statement today.

However, the PM said that due to the pandemic, the set goals and work are incomplete, and other parliament members are also saying that as all have started together, it is a collective responsibility to complete the work. “And I have decided to re-contest again, not because of other members but because of my own interest,” PM said.

PM also said that almost two and a half years have passed due to the pandemic, and most of the packages are left undone. “On a positive note, because of the lessons learned during the pandemic, we are positive that we can do the work of seven years within the next seven months,” the PM said.

“I genuinely would like to beg forgiveness from the people,” the PM said, if the statement to not re-contest has hurt the people and made  them think that he made it to earn their vote,

Dasho Sonam Kinga formally joined DNT on February 17, 2023. Meanwhile, political observers say that Bartsham-Shongphu constituency in Trashigang would witness the “clash of the Titans” in the up coming National Assembly (NA) elections. “All the candidates are very strong and as such it will be very difficult for the people to vote for the best candidate,” a businessman from the constituency, who is closely following politics said. “However, the people of the constituency are also proud that we have very capable people,” he said. Currently, the constituency’s NA member is Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s Dr (PHD). Passang Dorji. 

Dasho Dr (PHD).Sonam Kinga, won the 2008 National Council (NC) elections from Trashigang. He was nominated from Shongphu Gewog. After the 2008 elections, he served as the Deputy Chairperson of the National Council. He also served as the Chairperson of the House Committee and Good Governance Committee.

He re-contested in 2023 and was the lone contestant from Trashigang. After his victory, the election commission of Bhutan (ECB) conducted an election for the NC’s Chairperson. NC members elected Dasho Dr Sonam Kinga as its Chairperson and Haa council member Tshering Dorji as the Deputy Chairperson. The Chairperson was elected over two other contestants,  Pemagatshel council member Jigme Rinzin and Gasa council member Sangay Khandu. Of the total 25 votes cast, Dasho Sonam Kinga won 15 while councilor Sangay Khandu secured eight votes. Jigme Rinzin got two votes.

His Majesty the King awarded the red scarf to Dasho Sonam Kinga in 2013. 

On December 25, 2022, Dasho Sonam Kinga (PhD) appeared on social media exploring “possibilities of contesting 2023 elections”.

While it was not clear whether he intended to form a new political party or join an existing party, the announcement appeared in a video clip shared on the Facebook page Peldruk Pelbar.

“I have been asked many times now if I am forming a new political party or joining an existing one. For now, this is not important, but what is important is why forming a new political party or joining the existing party,” he said.

“If you look at the political landscape in our country today, we have existing as well as new political parties formed by and around political leaders. I respect them and appreciate their contributions to our democracy,” he said.

However, he said, there is an alternative. “The alternative is forming a party around a vision. Political parties must serve the vision and the vision should not become a servant of political parties,” said Dasho Sonam Kinga.

However, the page, Peldrul Pelbar was removed five days after the first post was made. In a second post, Dasho Sonam Kinga claimed that the social media page ‘Peldruk Pelbar’ is not the political party name but a political movement. He also responded to several most frequently asked questions.

According to the ECB Social Media rules and regulations, any communication via telephone means including individual or bulk SMS, or the internet including Telegram, Instagram, WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google Plus, blogs, websites, personal or official, individual or entity, textual or graphics, video or voice shall be determined as political advertising if the content pertains to elections, political views or positions, or in any way can be understood to be in support or against a candidate or party contesting elections. 

Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu