To Live by the Oath

The first sitting of the Fourth Parliament saw 47 new members within the hallowed halls of the sacred National Assembly put on their symbols of authority and responsibility and take the oath of allegiance to always put the country ahead of everything. To skeptics and critics, these are merely symbolic events, and the way politics are politicians are perceived and defined in today’s world augments these conceptions. Bhutanese politicians may be different; they may be those living by the oath, but the generalized narrative weaves a different story. Thus, every move that a politician makes goes through the citizen’s microscope.

However, our elected representatives can take these predisposed conceptions as an opportunity to write a different narrative. They can show the world how democracy can glow and silence masked critics who wage the battle of words on social media. In five years they can become immortal figures of our annals. These prospects come in the shape of challenges, beginning from misplaced conceptions drawn in the boardrooms of divisive politics to an economy that has been battered.

There is the urgency to remove once and for all, the shroud of regional politics. The ruling and the opposition should work together on it. It will neither help the parties nor the country, if attempts are not made to remove the inapt belief that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not the party of and for the East. As the ruling party, the PDP can do this. The party needs to break the parables associated with witch-hunting and unbalanced regional development.

Like in other countries, Bhutan’s political parties are also linked with personalities and ventures, thus generating stories about nepotism and corruption. It could be sour grapes; there are people in the private sector who have already begun to say that they would not participate in any procurement bid as they would not succeed in getting any from the hands of those close to politicians and the government. The government of the day has to drive home the message that Bhutanese politics do not and will not tolerate corruption of any kind.

Reviving the country’s economy has been at the bosom of all political parties that contested in the 2023-24 elections. The PDP’s economic pledges are ambitious but necessary at this juncture. All through the elections, the party’s Nu 15 billion stimulus plan was questioned. The party now has to show that this was not just a political ploy.

Of all, the new government is fortunate to have come to power when the country is witnessing the unfurling of Bhutan’s most ambitious economic project – the Gelephu Mindfulness City (GMC), a Royal Vision, with His Majesty the King as the main architect. While people derive consolation from the fact that His Majesty is personally involved in the project, the government’s support is important. We cannot leave everything to His Majesty. A significant bulk of the load has to be taken by the government.

As Bhutan’s oldest political party, with a leader who had been the Prime Minister earlier, the PDP would have calculated its strengths, weaknesses, challenges and opportunities. The party has signed a contract with the people. It has, like the opposition and others, taken an oath. Living by the oath would be the simplest way to begin and end its five-year journey.