Political parties aver govt. of influencing civil servants to join PDP

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will be roping in nine senior civil servants for the upcoming elections this year, going by what various sources have confirmed to Business Bhutan.

However, this has not gone down well with the other political parties who feel that such headhunting from the civil service is violating the civil service rules and politicizing it, while a few others feel that the government is overly using its authority to make civil servants join the PDP.

The Secretary General of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), Ugyen Dorji, said it is an extremely unfortunate incident involving the ruling party and the civil servants working under them when the Secretary General of PDP reportedly admitted that they have many of their confirmed candidates serving in the civil service and other apolitical organizations.

“This is a violation of the constitution and the electoral laws, and the RCSC Act, which requires the civil servants to remain apolitical at all times,” he said.

Describing the act of roping in civil servants as unconstitutional, Illegal, and unethical, Ugyen Dorji said the ruling party is unduly exercising its governing authority to influence the serving civil servants to join their party, perhaps even resorting to stick and carrot tactics.

The Secretary General of Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), Tenzin Lekphell, also admitted to hearing the present government pulling in a lot of the civil servants as their candidates.

“As far as the DNT is concerned, it is not our business to comment who is roped in and who is not. It is up to the PDP and the candidate themselves. However, the government and even those senior civil servants must be cautious to not to set bad examples by violating our civil service rules and politicizing it,” he added.

Meanwhile, a press release issued from Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP) stated that civil servants or anybody joining politics must ask themselves the reason(s) for joining politics and choosing a party.

“One must join politics with the purest conviction motivated to serve the larger cause and not driven by calculations or promises. If political parties, civil-servant designate politicians and other actors of democracy exploit public office and resources for political motives and political mileage, it’s unethical and undesirable,” the party stated.

Further, Ugyen Dorji said a civil servant who has confirmed his candidature to a political party has no business to remain in the civil service because it violates the cardinal principle of civil service – to remain apolitical at all times.

“A civil servant who has confirmed his/her candidature to a political party should take the moral responsibility to resign forthwith from the civil service. Otherwise, the person will misuse his/her authority and the public resources for political gains,” he added. “The political parties coveting civil servants more than any other sector is attributed because of the perceived belief that civil servants are better qualified with better working experience and reliable PR with people at the grassroots.”

However, PDP’s Secretary General, Sonam Jatso said, “Being in the civil service is one way of serving the country. Many of the MPs in the parliament (both ruling and opposition) have served as civil servants in the past. Similarly, taking part in politics is another way of serving the Tsa-Wa-Sum.”

“Political parties want to get the best candidates and they could come from any sector. The civil service is just one sector, which has a lot of credible leaders. If we scrutinize the civil service, the country would be surprised to know that it has excellent leaders in every area. It has experts, scientists, social scientists, PhD holders who are global authorities in their areas and people with the capacity to overwhelm the entire world,” he added.

Meanwhile, the names of senior civil servants that PDP will be roping in for the upcoming elections include Cabinet Secretary Kinzang Wangdi; Director General of Department of Local Governance Lungten Dorji; Trongsa Dzongda Sonam Rinchen; Director General of National Library Dorji Norbu; Gelephu Drungpa Sonam Tshering; Chief of Division of Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences Tashi Tobgay; Managing Director of Bhutan Power Corporation Gyem Tshering; Director of City Bus Services Sonam Dhendup; and Principal of Yangchenphug Higher Secondary School Dr. Karma Dukpa.

Chencho Dema from Thimphu