The task of sealing political cracks

PM said cracks caused by political parties in the elections had to be sealed

The Prime Minister’s (PM) State of the Nation Address is information to the parliament and thus the people about the state or condition of the country; the achievements of the government and the way forward. However, when read carefully, it unveils some very serious issues at the grassroots, which if left unattended would divide the nation beyond repair.     

The PM yesterday mentioned that sealing the cracks from political contests that had widened with successive parliamentary elections in the country was one of the activities and achievements of the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) government. By bringing this to light the PM has informed the nation that politics is dividing the country. And by doing so, the PM has also conveyed a message to all political parties that once divided, it becomes an activity to bring the people together, which is not easy.

People may not consider this important and even question how the PM can call it an activity. However, it is a very important activity. A country of Bhutan’s size cannot afford to be divided along political lines. The danger is augmented as this is prevalent in rural Bhutan. If one visits a village, people will say that one household belongs to a supporter of one political party, where supporters of other parties do not go. Community vitality has been severely weakened.

A resident in Thimphu, who is from Trashiyangtse says that his family has been ostracized by the community as they supported one political party in the 2018 elections. “My aunty and others are even not invited to annual religious rites that people conduct. Water pipes to their houses were cut off. Animosity was developed before the elections, but I thought that after the elections it would end. It has not,” he said.

“I went to my village after a very long time last year and I was astounded,” a former corporate employee said. He explained that as he walked towards his house with his cousin, the talk was all about whose house belonged to which supporter of a political party. “We had to cross about 20 houses and my cousin even said that households are not in talking terms. I was really shocked because some dates back to the 2008 and the 2013 elections,” he said.

According to him, it was very uncomfortable for him to visit some households, just as people from other households could not come to his house. “As my house has also been associated with a political party, supporters of other parties were not comfortable. But I went to their houses and explained that this should not be the case.”

Dorji from Trashigang says divisions still exist. “Perhaps during the elections, people may be getting some incentives to support a party or to mobilize votes. But what I do not understand is people continuing with the animosity even after the elections,” he said.

Dorji said he advises people to attend meetings of all political parties. “I also tell them to take whatever is given. The final decision, at the time of voting, is in their hands. No one will know who you voted for.”

Sonam Dorji, a resident of Thimphu said “Cleaning the mess caused by politics after elections” is not an easy task. “As said by the PM, ‘cracks’ begin to appear. In fact, it has already started and it is the responsibility of political parties and leaders to explain to the people about the dangers of division.”

Ugyen Tenzin from Thuimphu