Political candidates swapping parties in full swing

As we gear up for the third parliamentary elections, it’s not just political parties that are headhunting for good candidates. Even political candidates seem to be moving from one party to another.

One of the recent cases is that of the president of the DrukChirwangTshogpa (DCT), Lily Wangchuk, joining the DrukPhuensumTshogpa (DPT).

Deliberating with political parties on the issue, Secretary General of the DPT, UgyenDorji, said every individual has the right to join a party of their choice and liking as per the constitution and electoral laws.

“I would like to believe that people don’t randomly choose a party seeking opportunity to fulfill their vested and selfish interest by switching parties,” he said.

The Secretary General of DrukNyamrupTshogpa (DNT) and the party’s spokesperson, Tenzin Lekphell, said these movements of candidates are positive indications of Bhutanese democracy growing and maturing.

“There can be different reasons for different candidates. Some I feel move on to fulfill their personal ambition, there are some who join out of frustration because they have been replaced by a new candidate and some leave their parties because they differ from the party principles. We cannot generalize one reason for all candidates,” he added.

Similarly, the Secretary General of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), SonamJatso, said there is nothing wrong with the movement of candidates if the laws of the land aren’t broken.

“The primary issue here is that the laws of the land should not be broken. Every party would want to get the best possible candidates,” he added.

However, a press release from Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP) maintained that candidates switching political parties confirm a bankruptcy in political morality, in haste to self-serve rather than serving the cause.

Whether such things are happening because of a sheer dearth of candidates in Bhutan, UgyenDorji said at this age and time, there is absolutely no dearth of candidates.

“In fact, going by the abundance of candidates available in the market, parties should be spoilt for choices. However, candidates with right aptitude, experience and competence are hard to come by,” he said.

Tenzin Lekphell said, “For DNT, those who have joined us, it has nothing to do with dearth of candidates (we had many new applicants). But we selected some from other parties because they fit better with our party’s organization and they believe strongly with our goal of “Narrowing the gap” and we need people with such energy and passion. At the end of the day that is what we want-to create better living society in our small country.”

Or is it happening because of political parties thinking that former political candidates have an edge over a new candidate, UgyenDorji said it is not necessarily but depends on the candidate’s aptitude, experience  and competence and in case of former MPs, performance track record.

However, SonamJatso said, “It will all depend on candidates. In some cases former candidates may be better and in other cases new candidates may be better.”

On the party having roped in candidates who have served in other parties before, UgyenDorji said they had a few former candidates of other parties showing interest to join them, but as of now the erstwhile president of the de-registered DCT is the only candidate whohas formally joined our party.

However, there are talks that the former PDP candidate TsheringChoden who contested back in the 2008 elections would be joining DPT. Though it has not been confirmed, but it is also said that Kamal Dan Chamling (samtse) and Kul Badur (Sarpang), the former candidates of DNT, may join DPT.

Meanwhile, SonamJatso said they are in the process of finalizing their candidates and would do their best to get the best possible candidate in every constituency.

“We owe it to our nation and people to get the best possible candidates to contest in the upcoming elections. PDP believes firmly in forming a credible crop of leaders. We will try our best to do so. We also believe that other parties should also try to get the best candidates. This can only help strengthen our democracy and the great vision of our country, the Gross National Happiness,” he said.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that former MoIC minister, Nandalal Rai who served DPT, will contest from PDP.

And though DNT did not mention the names of the candidates who have joined their party, talks doing the round is that the party is going to rope in the former MP Kinga Tshering of DPT and also Ugyen Tenzin (Haa) and Hemant Gurung (Lhamoizhingkha), the former MPs of DPT.

Chencho Dema fromThimphu