Political year begins

Like it or not, the political jostling for 2018 is well underway. Political parties are setting out their priorities and positions, while also simultaneously declaring and announcing new party candidates as they gear up for the third parliamentary elections this year.

The Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP), for instance, is actively using its Facebook page; advocating its followers on the importance of voting, democracy and corruption-free elections. It has also been using the same page to intermittently declare and introduce party’s candidates to the public. The party has so far declared around 14 candidates.

Similarly, it must have been a well-deserved respite from a busy week for the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) after the party in a solemn ceremony in Thimphu introduced and handed out party tickets to 46 candidates of the total 47 early this month. Further, the party also had its president and vice-president elected a month ago in a grand general assembly in Thimphu. DNT has already started politicking with its slogan of ‘Narrowing the Gap!’.

The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) has also been busy on the political front. The party welcomed the president of Druk Chirwang Tshogpa (DCT) and some of interested candidates to join them following deregistration of DCT as a political party. It has also been fielding new candidates, who would represent the party in the upcoming elections.

Similarly, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is there in the race too. After launching two sets of candidates, comprising seven candidates each in a set, the party launched another three new candidates last week. While the party is introducing some new candidates, some serving MPs are also being replaced. The PDP president was also seen last week reprimanding the replaced MPs not to speak against the party and party interest on social media and other platforms.

Undoubtedly, politicking has begun and good political developments are happening, at least for now. This is going by the conduct of the political parties presently. But for how long will they continue maintaining the same would be something to see as we head to the main event. If past trends are any indication, we have been observers to how ugly, petty and dirty politics can get as the fight among political parties for power intensifies. We have seen divisive politics tearing apart families, friends, neighbors and communities.

In order to favor a political party’s vested interest, we have also been observers to unhealthy political trends such as negative campaigns that parties resort to so as to tarnish the image of another aspiring candidate or another political party. Such doings, however, must not be expected out of our political parties. They have an important role in building up the nation’s democratic culture. They must remember their important role in earning and maintaining the faith of Bhutanese electorates in politicians and democracy.